French anti-graft groups accuse Lebanon PM of money laundering

Lebanon’s billionaire caretaker prime minister has denied allegations of money laundering after a complaint was filed in France by two anti-corruption groups this week.The complaint against Najib Mikati was formally filed Tuesday with France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office anti-corruption non-governmental organization Sherpa and the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices.Sherpa said the objective is to “shed light on the conditions under which Lebanese political figures like Najib Mikati accumulated considerable wealth and on the role of financial intermediaries who facilitated these acquisitions.” Details of the sums of money allegedly involved were not immediately released. The group said it drew the attention of French prosecutors to the conditions under which Mikati “has accumulated significant assets in France. The complaint also questions the origin of the funds that transited through the French banking system.” Mikati said in a statement published Wednesday by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency that he and members of his family have always acted honestly and legally. He defended the family’s “integrity” and said its business is characterized by “complete transparency.” French prosecutors have yet to decide if they will launch an investigation. One of the richest men in , Mikati, 68, has served as prime minister since 2021. He founded the telecommunications company Investcom with his brother Taha in the 1980s and sold it in 2006 to South Africa’s MTN Group for $5.5 billion.