Lebanese President demands proof of former FM's corruption

Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun, responds to US announcement of sanctions against his son-in-law and ex-cabinet minister Gebran Bassil.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Michel Aoun
Michel Aoun

Lebanon's President, Michel Aoun, on Saturday asked for proof against his son-in-law and ex-cabinet minister Gebran Bassil to justify US sanctions for alleged corruption, AFP reported.

"Aoun has asked his foreign minister to obtain the proof and documents that pushed the US Treasury to direct accusations against lawmaker Gebran Bassil," his office said on Twitter.

He also stressed "the necessity of handing over the documents to the Lebanese judiciary to take the necessary measures," it said.

A source at the presidency said the request was made as "Bassil is a Lebanese lawmaker and (former) minister accused of graft. If there were evidence against him, the Lebanese judiciary should follow up on the issue.”

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Bassil, accusing him of corruption and ties to Hezbollah.

Bassil heads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), founded by Aoun, and has served as minister of telecoms, of energy and water and of foreign affairs.

He said in a Twitter post that sanctions did not scare him and that he had not been “tempted” by promises.

The sanctions could complicate efforts by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who is trying to navigate Lebanon’s sectarian politics to assemble a cabinet to tackle a financial crisis, Lebanon’s worst crisis its 1975-1990 civil war.

In recent months, the United States has placed sanctions on several Lebanese officials linked to Hezbollah, which is blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization. This has included sanctions against two former Lebanese Cabinet ministers allied with the terrorist organization: Ex-finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and the former public works and transportation minister, Youssef Fenianos.

The Treasury Department said Bassil was at the “forefront of corruption in Lebanon”.