Source: Beirut – Johnny Fakhry
According to recent press reports, French Rep. Thierry Mariani is leading a group of MPs in a struggle to investigate the embezzlement of European Union aid, which could lead to withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Lebanon and the displaced Syrians, with doubts circulating over the involvement of the European Union Foreign Minister Previous Federica Mogherini “.
Perhaps the irony in the matter is that some members of the European Parliament are planning, as Jay says, to recover more than $ 38 million lost by the European Commission in Lebanon due to fake waste management plans, as well as prosecuting those responsible for corruption in this file, hoping the Lebanese government will initiate an investigation on its part. This money is a goodwill gesture!
The investigations will include some of the major players in Lebanon, such as former prime ministers, Najib Mikati and Saad Hariri. Al-Hariri’s name appears strongly in the investigations because of his association with a Lebanese businessman accused of stealing huge sums from the European Union waste management programs, and because he was behind a new trick to steal more international aid money to establish a waste incinerator worth one billion dollars.
A pianist behind European action
This European move to reveal the fate of the money deposited by the Europeans in Lebanon to deal with the waste crisis is behind him pianist and businessman Omar Harfoush, who was presented a few weeks ago in Brussels during a conference in which deputies of European national parliaments participated and the tendency to freeze the funds of Lebanese officials and their families outside Lebanon as a start to the solution and the starting point towards recovering the stolen money.
Speaking in Arabic, Harfouche explained, “There is European resentment on this issue, because the Union has funded a project in millions of euros to establish a waste sorting plant that addresses the garbage crisis in all areas of northern Lebanon before discovering that the book of conditions has not been respected.”
He noted, “The financing of this project is not linked to the aid of the Cedar Donors Conference.”
He also pointed out that “several delegations of European and French representatives and United Nations officials visited Lebanon earlier in order to follow up the implementation of a proposed French project with the support of the United Nations, and held a series of meetings with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Municipal Council of the city of Tripoli and heard positive words from Prime Minister Hariri. It is necessary to speed up the decision of the project due to its vital importance. However, they were surprised that the cabinet decided at that time to establish three waste incinerators in Beirut, North and South, to be funded from within Cedar projects at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and it seems that there is a big difference between the price a Real to the factory and the proposed price in “Cedar”.
The European action comes as a continuation of a session held by Parliament last November 14 in Brussels on Lebanon and corruption, in which some 20 European deputies talked about the situation in Lebanon, including Thierry Mariani, former minister in the government of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said in his intervention that “we As elected in the European Parliament, we must ask where the money that is being transferred goes to Lebanon to help it. ” The most prominent message from a member of the Municipal Council in Tripoli, Nour Al-Ayoubi (Al-Arabiya.net has published an article on himIt states that the European Union gave a gift to build a waste sorting plant in the northern capital, which was not implemented according to the conditions book.
Omar Harfoush had organized a similar conference last year in the French Senate attended by United Nations Under-Secretary-General Philippe Douste-Blazy alongside environmental experts, during which Blazy proposed the establishment of a waste sorting project in Lebanon funded by the United Nations that is in conformity with environmental and health safety requirements and is also used To generate electricity and extract fertilizer. “
To that, Harfouche explained, “The Europeans have begun to conduct investigations on the fate of the money that was paid to establish factories to deal with the waste crisis in Lebanon, and French Senator Natalie Goulet visited Tripoli in northern Lebanon a while ago and prepared a report on the need to save it from the waste mountains, and will complete its report with another visit It will start on Saturday to Beirut, next to Judge Charles Prats, who is one of the largest French judges specialized in the field of fighting corruption, transferring money and recovering the stolen money.
The French delegation will have meetings with the Malian Public Prosecutor, Judge Ali Ibrahim, and the head of the Bar Association Melhem Khalaf, in addition to specialists in public affairs, in order to inform them of the mechanism for recovering the stolen money.
He also stressed, “He will strive to transfer this European money to another party but rather to reallocate it to Lebanon again,” pointing to the importance of raising awareness among the Lebanese towards the waste file and cutting the road for everyone who wants to achieve his personal interests in this vital file that affects everyone. “.
He declared, “The European Union will not leave Lebanon alone in dealing with the waste crisis, and the actions we are taking” have changed “their impression of dealing again with Lebanon.”
On the other hand, the information office of President Saad Al-Hariri stated in a statement, “The article published on one of the official official website in this regard confused the programs of the European Union through the Ministry of State for Administrative Development Affairs for solid waste treatment projects on the one hand, and offered to implement a special project for Mr. Omar Harfoush is concerned with waste treatment in the city of Tripoli.
Likewise, the media office of President Najib Mikati denied what was mentioned in the article, stressing that President Mikati has nothing to do with the issue of waste treatment, which is carried out by the executive authority, according to a study prepared by the European Union, saying that the speech attributed to President Mikati is false and is a matter of political and financial blackmail. .
European mechanism for holding those involved accountable
As for the measures that the European Parliament can take against Lebanese if it is proven that they are involved in wasting the funds allocated to finance development projects, including dealing with the waste crisis, Harfoush explained that if the Lebanese government informs the European Union that it has doubts about specific people related to corruption files, then it is possible The European Parliament may issue a decision to withhold their money and confiscate their property belonging to them and their families for a period of six months until the end of investigations. If it is proven that they are innocent, they will recover their money and property. If it is found that they are involved, then they will be confiscated and pursued. ”
However, the Lebanese businessman refused to give the name of the persons and companies involved, because the accused is innocent until proven guilty, despite the fact that the foreign report named Prime Minister Hariri and Mikati, the results of the investigations must be awaited.
Lebanon, which has been living since 2015 in addition to the political and security crises, witnessed a waste crisis during which garbage accumulated in the streets of Beirut and smelled its smell, huge demonstrations in protest against the crisis of garbage accumulation.
Three months ago, a popular movement has been witnessing all Lebanese regions to demand the formation of a government independent of the political class that has been ruling for decades, fighting corruption and recovering the stolen money.