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Report implicates 411 people in Al-Madina Bank collapse scandal

State Prosecutor Judge Hatem Madi speaks during an interview with The Daily Star at the Justice Palace in Beirut, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: A report handed to the Lebanese State Prosecutor Monday named 411 individuals who allegedly received illicit money from the now-defunct Al-Madina Bank.

Judge Hatem Madi has opened a judicial inquiry into the matter after examining the allegations.

The report, prepared by a group of experts, showed that the money collected by these individuals amounts to LL307 billion, $401 million and 973,000 euros.

The names of those involved were not disclosed to the news media.

Sources said that some of the names in the list included Syrian army officers and former Lebanese ministers and MPs.

One of the key suspects, Rana Qoleilat, who was accused of playing a central role in the fraud at Al-Madina, said in February that she would hand over to authorities the names of her accomplices.

Qoleilat is currently residing in Brazil and efforts to extradite her to Lebanon have failed.

During her 12 years at the private Al-Madina Bank, Qoleilat rose from clerk to executive.

The Al-Madina scandal broke out in 2003 during the Syrian mandate in Lebanon. Syrian army intelligence officer Roustom Gazaleh, who was responsible for the Lebanese file at that time, was reportedly involved in the scandal.

Qoleilat was at the center of the scandal that engulfed Al-Madina when the Central Bank announced in July 2003 that it had detected a cash deficit at the bank of more than 250 million euros, along with other irregularities.

Other suspects in the case include Adnan Abu Ayash and his brother Ibrahim. Adnan, chairman of the bank, remained in Saudi Arabia when the authorities closed it, while Ibrahim was imprisoned for a few months before his release.

Central Bank governor Riad Salameh seized all the properties held by the bank and eventually liquidated the assets to compensate depositors who had lost millions of dollars.

Experts said that Al-Madina Bank was involved in money laundering, noting that the authorities declined to disclose the names of the politicians who received large sums of money from the bank.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 09, 2013, on page 5.

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