BEIRUT: The Higher Relief Committee will maintain its work despite the difficulties and obstacles it has been facing, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Friday, referring to the recent embezzlement scandal at the organization that disburses funds during emergencies and tragedies in Lebanon.
“The committee will remain to keep up its work and any talk about abolishing it is untrue,” Mikati told a delegation from the committee that visited him at the Grand Serail,” a statement from his office said.
The HRC, a government-run institution under the office of the prime minister, came under scrutiny following the claims of embezzlement of public funds by the committee’s chief, Ibrahim Bashir.
Bashir and his wife were charged in November with embezzlement of state funds and money laundering. Media reports said Bashir transferred some $10 million in public funds to foreign accounts.
Lebanese businessman Hussein Fawwaz, and Fawwaz’s wife were also charged with illegally transferring state money to private accounts abroad, in addition to money laundering, in the case.
Mikati, according to the statement, said that the scandal at the HRC “should be a lesson to everyone.”
“Everyone is under the rule of law and the judiciary is addressing the case with all impartiality,” the caretaker prime minister said.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir, the general-secretary of the Higher Defense Council, was tasked to temporarily replace Bashir after the claims of embezzlement emerged in early November.