Former Lebanese PM Mikati denies illicit gains charges

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Former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati denied charges brought by a prosecutor involving illicit gains from subsidized housing loans, his communications adviser said on Wednesday, calling the case politically motivated.

Mikati’s adviser said the loans were purely commercial and met central bank regulations, and said the charges came in response to Mikati’s criticism of President Michel Aoun and support for protests targeting him and his government.

Mikati, along with his brother, his son and local Lebanese Bank Audi have been accused of “illicit enrichment,” the National News Agency reported.

Bank Audi denied on Wednesday any involvement in “illegitimate enrichment.”

The former prime minister, who resigned from the post in 2013, has previously denied the allegations. He announced he will give a press conference on Wednesday to address the charges.

Mikati’s estimated wealth is $2.5 billion, making him among the 1,000 richest people in the world.

In 2018, Lebanese media reported that Mikati and the others were accused of wrongly receiving millions of dollars in subsidized housing loans.

The loans were supposed to help low and middle-income Lebanese buy homes. The government-backed scheme has subsequently stopped granting any new loans.

At the time, the Mikatis dismissed the accusations.

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