Monaco closes corruption probe against Lebanon's caretaker prime minister for lack of evidence

BEIRUT (AP) — A three-year probe against Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and his family over corruption allegations has been closed by Monaco's judicial authorities for lack of evidence, the premier's office said Friday.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office said that Morgan Raymond, the deputy public prosecutor in Monaco, told the Lebanese premier's legal team that they have closed the investigation into the case that was raised by unspecified Lebanese plaintiffs on allegations of illicit enrichment and money laundering.

Mikati’s office said Monaco's decision shows that the case was “fake” and meant “for political purposes.” It added that Mikati and his family will take legal action against those who were behind these “lies and rumors.”

In 2021, a trove of leaked documents named the “Pandora Papers,” that were examined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Daraj, a Beirut-based independent digital media platform, showed that for years, Lebanon’s politicians and bankers have stowed wealth in offshore tax havens and used it to buy expensive properties.

Mikati has owned a Panama-based offshore company since the 1990s. He used it in 2008 to buy property in Monaco worth more than $10 million, Daraj reported from the documents.

The leaked documents also show that Mikati's son Maher was a director of at least two British Virgin Islands-based companies, which his father’s Monaco-based company, M1 Group, used to obtain an office in central London.

Mikati at the time released a statement saying his family fortune was amassed prior to his involvement in politics and was “compliant with global standards” and regularly scrutinized by auditors.