BEIRUT: Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday he would sue Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef over accusations of embezzlement and vowed to “put him in jail.”
“I will file a slander lawsuit against him [Youssef] ... because he cannot [attack] us or telecoms employees and not be held accountable,” Sehnaoui told a news conference.
“I will put him in jail,” vowed Sehnaoui, a member in Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
On Wednesday, Youssef leveled corruption charges against Sehnaoui, saying the telecoms minister had embezzled more than $60 million by failing to put the $85-million 3G expansion contract to tender.
“The minister himself admitted that the unit cost was $50,000. Therefore, expanding the touch [mobile] network through the new 300 [satellite] stations should not have cost more than $15 million,” Youssef said.
He called on Sehnaoui to explain to the Lebanese the use of the remaining funds, adding: “Does the cost of licensing and software alone amount to $70 million? Of course not.”
The Future Movement MP argued that if Lebanon’s telecoms provider “touch” bought a license for 1 million users, which he said he doubted, the cost should not exceed $5 million.
Youssef accused the Telecoms Ministry of bias in awarding the contract and said no effort had been made to draw offers from other international suppliers of telecoms equipment.