Did Lebanon's PM Give a Model $16 million Instead of Paying Employees their Salaries?

Published October 2nd, 2019 - 09:26 GMT
Lebanese PM Saad Hariri gifted a South African model $16 million. (Albawaba)
Lebanese PM Saad Hariri gifted a South African model $16 million. (Albawaba)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave $16 million to a South African bikini model according to court documents obtained by the New York Times. 

Documents revealed that he gave Candice van der Merwe the money and other extravagant perks including two luxury cars in 2013 when the pair were allegedly in a romantic relationship. 

The transaction did not violate any Lebanese or South African laws and some people argued that since Hariri was not in office at the time, that he was free to do as he pleased with his money. 

But the news has also triggered angry reactions at a time when Lebanon is facing an economic state of emergency that led to recent protests. Even though no direct ties were established between Hariri's gifts and the country's financial troubles, some say his actions make him an unfit leader. 

The Lebanese PM is now being criticized for spending such a large sum while employees working within his business empire were deprived of their salaries.

Naturally, the Internet reacted with ridicule and humor but others reading between the lines saw a conspiracy brewing. 

Hariri didn't address the allegations specifically but responded indirectly in a tweet that highlighted government achievements, stating, "whatever campaigns they launch against me, whatever they say, write or do, I will continue to work and won't stop. It's true we're going through a difficult financial situation and that's why we have to make bold decisions."

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