True||State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud has issued a warrant through Interpol and an arrest warrant in absentia against Jordanian-born businessman Ghazi Abu Nahl, according to documents released this week.||

BEIRUT: State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud has issued a warrant through Interpol and an arrest warrant in absentia against Jordanian-born businessman Ghazi Abu Nahl, according to documents released this week.

Abu Nahl was indicted in June for crimes of undermining the financial status of Lebanon in addition to slander, libel and defamation.

Investigations started in 2017 based on a complaint by Georges Abou Jaoude – formerly chair of the board of directors of the Lebanese Canadian Bank – against Abu Nahl and his group for defamation, threats and slander. The case, which spanned from 2005 to 2011, was based on business contacts between Abou Jaoude and Abu Nahl through the Lebanese Canadian Bank, of which Abu Nahl and his group, Nest Investments Holding Lebanon, owned 25 percent.

Abu Nahl’s group was represented on the board of directors and its members were also appointed in committees, which enabled Abu Nahl to actively participate in making banking decisions until the bank’s liquidation in 2011.

Abu Nahl, who is a major shareholder in various regional insurance companies including Trust Insurance Company in Lebanon, filed a complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York accusing Abou Jaoude of money laundering, drug smuggling, funding terrorism and stealing money from the Lebanese Canadian Bank. Abu Nahl had also accused Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh of knowing about Abou Jaoude’s actions.

Beirut Investigative Judge Ghassan Oweidat indicted Abu Nahl and his group on June 18 for defaming Abou Jaoude. The arrest warrant in absentia, however, dates back to February, according to documents provided to The Daily Star.

A statement issued on behalf of Abu Nahl and Trust Group said that the allegations were “unfounded and untrue” and were “made in retaliation to legitimate legal claims brought in international courts by Mr Abu Nahl against individuals who were Executives of a Lebanese bank found by the US authorities to be involved in money laundering and drug trafficking.”

The statement further claimed the allegations “are only designed to put pressure on Mr Abu Nahl to drop the claims. We will use our right of defense before the Lebanese Courts to put an end to abuse and manipulation of the legal system that unlawfully targets our reputation and interests.”

Reports indicate that Abu Nahl and his team, who are also wanted for arrest, currently reside in Cyprus. The statement said the group’s headquarters are based in Cyprus and that Abu Nahl is a Cypriot national. “The ridiculous allegations that they are hiding in Cyprus are completely false,” the statement read.

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