Beirut - The story of Salah Ezzedine , who was nicknamed the 'Lebanese Madoff' is the focus of the media in Lebanon. It was confirmed yesterday that several key Hezbollah officials were financially affected by Ezzedine’s scheme and many are now suing him in the Lebanese courts .
Al-Mustaqbal daily said among those who filed charges against Ezzedine was Hezbollah lawmaker Hussein Hajj Hassan, who requested the reimbursement of his $200,000 investment
Hezbollah officials MP Mohammed Raad, Amin Sherri and Hajj Wafiq Safa are on the list of people who were affected by Ezzedine's bankruptcy, according to a report by Al-Arabiya television.
Latest reports have revealed that 11,000 Lebanese Shiites have lost the money that they have invested with Ezzedine
Ezzedine ‘s case has drawn comparisons in Lebanon with that of Bernard Madoff, the New York failed financier whose multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme wiped out thousands of investors and charities worldwide. Madoff was sentenced last June to 150 years in prison.
Ezzedine, who reportedly has very close ties with top Hezbollah officials , has declared bankruptcy , leaving thousands of citizens unemployed in Beirut's southern suburbs as well as in south and east Lebanon.
Ezzedine, a wealthy businessman from the town of Maaroub near the southern port city of Tyre, is a prominent financier particularly among Shiite circles in Lebanon. He is the owner of Dar Al-Hadi Publishing House - one of Lebanon's most prominent publishing houses of religious Shiite books which also prints books written by Hezbollah officials - and al-Hadi TV for children.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that Ezzedine had major business interests, particularly in oil and iron industries, in Eastern Europe and suffered substantial losses when oil prices dropped starting mid last year. He tried to make up for his losses by taking money from Lebanese investors, promising them up to 40 percent interest on their deposits which he could not repay, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
"Al-Safir" newspaper which is well known for its support to Hezbollah reported Friday that Speaker Nabih Berri, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah have been following up on this issue, especially since a large segment of Shiites has been affected by the bankruptcy.
According to Lebanese central News Agency (Al Markaziyah ) Hezbollah security apparatus with help from the Lebanese Ministry of Communications were able to pin point Ezzeddine’s location in southern Beirut . Hezbollah then raided his location arrested him and handed him over to the Lebanese judicial authorities. Earlier reports have incorrectly indicated that he has handed himself over the judicial authorities. Ezzedine’s family has reportedly fled the country to a unknown location and he was planning to unite with the members of his family when he was detained.
His wealth was estimated between 1.2 to 2 billion Dollars.
According to financial observers none of the Lebanese banks were involved in Ezzedine’s scheme and therefore won’t have any affect on the Lebanese financial situation.
Some observers have reported that Hezbollah ‘s loss as a result of Ezzedine’s bankruptcy exceeds its loss during the 2006 war with Israel . In 2006 Hezbollah was compensated by the Lebanese government, but this time this option is reportedly out of the question.
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6;00 pm Al Markaziyah sources: Hezbollah security apparatus with help from The Lebanese communications ministry were able to pin point Ezzeddine’s location in southern Beirut . Hezbollah then raided his location arrested him and handed him over to the judicial authorities
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3:35 pm Al-Arabiya TV : Hezbollah officials MP Mohammed Raad, Amin Sherri and Hajj Wafiq Safa are all affected by Lebanese businessman Salah Ezzeddine's bankruptcy. Hezbollah MP Hussein al-Hajj has filed a lawsuit against Ezzeddine requesting reimbursement of his
$ 200,000 that he had invested with him.
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