Lebanon Prime Minister Mikati declares family wealth legal in response to Pandora Papers


BEIRUT, Oct. 5 (Reuters) – Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s family fortune comes from a communications company that has been past audited and is legal, his office said in a statement Tuesday in response to a huge leak of financial documents.

A Lebanese news organization, Daraj, was one of several international media outlets to cover the Pandora Papers, a series of leaked documents allegedly exposing offshore transactions with global political and business figures.

Daraj had said that Mikati owned an offshore company in Panama called Hessvile, through which he had bought a property in Monaco worth 7 million euros.

On Tuesday, Mikati said that owning real estate through companies was a common and legal business practice.

Mikati’s family fortunes were examined when his communications firm went public in London in 2005 and later merged with South African MTN, the statement said.

Reuters did not review the reports or documents. The use of offshore firms is not illegal and in itself is not evidence of wrongdoing, but the news organizations that published the fund said that such agreements could be used to hide transactions from tax collectors or other authorities.

The Daraj report includes other top political figures in Lebanon and senior bankers who have allegedly adopted offshore havens.

Reporting from Alaa Swilam, letter from Maha El Dahan; Adaptation by Giles Elgood

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