First of its kind PEP lawsuit? Lebanese lawyer sues Minister of Foreign Affairs for money laundering and taking state assets

By Christine Duhaime | November 9th, 2019

A Lebanese lawyer, Maitre Marwan Salam, has sued the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gébran Bassil, for corruption, money laundering and enrichment from state assets.

Massive protests have been taking place in Lebanon for several weeks over political corruption. Last month, the New York Times reported that the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, had sent a South African bikini model a wire transfer of $16 million and bought her two luxury cars. She earned $5,400 per year modelling. They met at a resort in the Seychelles where she was paid to attend and entertain rich men for a weekend.

Bassil and Hariri are government officials, and politically exposed persons in anti-money laundering law, meaning that they are at high risk for money laundering. They are at high risk because statistically it is PEPs who tend to use their positions of power to move state assets, including the proceeds of corruption, to another country, usually a safe haven island whose sole business is the protection of the identity of beneficial owners of trusts and corporations so that they can get bank accounts to move money without transparency.

The lawsuit seems to be the first PEP lawsuit of its kind.

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