Lebanon's telecoms minister denies corruption charges
[Lebanon's] Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui shrugged off allegations Tuesday made by Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef claiming that the minster has embezzled government funds.
Speaking to a local radio station, Youssef implied that Sehnaoui had made millions of dollars from the government’s treasury via a plan to install satellites.
“The telecoms minister committed theft when he planned to install 300 aerial satellites worth $85 million from the treasury’s funds ... while the satellites cost $20 million. Where is the $65 million?” Youssef asked.
He added that the minister also renovated 800 transmission stations worth $50 million over a period of three years.
The MP, who accused Sehnaoui of corruption, said that Prime Minister Najib Mikati had promised to refer the minister’s case to the Central Inspection Department.
“I have spoken to the prime minister about this theft, and he promised to refer the telecoms minister to financial inspection despite the fact that the minister enjoys cover from MP Michel Aoun and Hezbollah, as well as the Audit Bureau,” Youssef said.
He warned that if Mikati failed to take any action then he himself would file a complaint.
Sehnaoui, however, denied Youssef’s allegations.
“These are baseless allegations,” Sehnaoui told The Daily Star, adding that the claims were part of a series of charges made by the lawmaker against MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sehnaoui said: “MP Ghazi Youssef appears every once in a while, firing away his imagination and targeting Free Patriotic Movement ministers, making statements ... which are false, void and malicious.”
He also described the Future Movement lawmaker’s approach as “repugnant and morbid.”