Ex- Lebanese PM refuses to testify on $11 billion spending


sinioraLebanon’s former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has refused to appear before Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim, who has asked to question him on the disbursement of $11 billion during his premiership between 2006 and 2008.

The National News Agency (NNA) said that Ibrahim called on Siniora to report to his office at the Beirut Justice Palace Thursday in order to answer questions on the money spent outside state budgets between 2005 and 2009.

But in later remarks to the NNA, Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation Ghassan Oweidat said that the session had been postponed for a week because of Ibrahim’s failure to inform Siniora of the original hearing in time. The Nov. 14 hearing will be held at the Court of Cassation.

Siniora told Asharq Al-Awsat that he would not accept Ibrahim’s request.

At a news conference in March, the former prime minister said that the money “was all spent based on the principle and the provisions of the Constitution and the financial laws.”

He explained that the Lebanese State’s needs had exceeded the LL10 trillion budget set in 2005, leading the government to resort to extra-budgetary spending to cover expenses such as public debt, oil prices and wages.

While he emphasized that he was under the law, Siniora noted: “I have full confidence that what I did was for the benefit of Lebanon and the Lebanese.”

“I have already submitted a draft-law to subject the state accounts to auditing in 2006, but the bill has not been adopted by the Parliament,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Earlier this year, Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah called for a probe into what he claimed were missing state funds amounting to $11 billion dollars.

He was indirectly pointing a finger at former PM Saniora.

He submitted financial documents to the judiciary that he claimed could “land many people in jail, including former prime ministers.”

Siniora described the issue of the “missing” $11 billion as a “farce,” as he announced that those “setting up mini-states inside the state” are the real corrupts, in an apparent jab at Hezbollah.

(Asharq Al-Awsat)//Agencies