Lebanon PM Mikati says family wealth legal in response to ‘Pandora Papers’

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Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s family wealth comes from a communications business that has been audited in the past and is legal, a statement by his office said on Tuesday in response to a giant leak of financial documents.

A Lebanese news organization, Daraj, was one of a number of international media outlets that reported the “Pandora Papers”, a set of leaked documents purported to reveal offshore transactions involving global political and business figures.

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Daraj had said Mikati owned an offshore firm in Panama called Hessvile through which he purchased a property in Monaco worth 7 million euros.

On Tuesday, Mikati said owning property through firms was a common commercial practice that was legal.

Mikati’s family wealth was audited when his communications firm listed in London in 2005 and when it merged with South Africa’s MTN later, the statement said.

Reuters has not verified the reports or the documents. The use of offshore companies is not illegal and not evidence of wrongdoing on its own, but the news organizations that published the trove said such arrangements could be intended to hide transactions from tax collectors or other authorities.

The Daraj report includes other top political figures in Lebanon and senior bankers who it said had embraced offshore havens.

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