Paris, June 7, 2021 – The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has announced the opening of a preliminary investigation to be carried out by the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police as a consequence to the complaint filed by Sherpa and the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon on April 30, 2021.
The complaint not only targets suspicions of money laundering in connection with the flight of considerable capital following the democratic, political and financial crisis that took place in Lebanon in fall 2019, but also the suspicious conditions under which considerable assets (including luxurious real estates) were acquired by private or public Lebanese officials on French territory.
By initiating this litigation, Sherpa is building on the initiatives undertaken since 2007 along with other NGO’s to improve the fight against international corruption in France and allow the restitution of assets to the deprived population.
“The restitution of assets is therefore essential in that it brings the hope of improving the living conditions of these populations, at the same time as it endeavors to repair part of the damage suffered by the victims of corruption.” declares Sandra Cossart, Sherpa’s Executive Director. “France will have to ensure that ill-gotten assets will be returned to serve the general interest, improve the living conditions of Lebanese people, it should also be directed towards strengthening the rule of law and fighting endemic corruption in the country”.
Coincidence or political will from France to really take action against ill-gotten assets, this preliminary investigation happens at the same time a restitution mechanism about to be voted by the parliament . The text, to be voted in coming weeks, lays down the return of ill-gotten assets to civilian populations in accordance with the principles of transparency, traceability and accountability, and ensuring that civil society organizations will be closely associated to the process.
This complaint will also put the money laundering offense and the liability of financial intermediaries at the heart of the debate.
Sherpa and the Lebanese collective are waiting for the investigation to unveil the responsabilities of the Lebanese officials involved but also of financial and banking intermediaries likely to be linked to the humanitarian crisis that the Lebanese people are suffering today.
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