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Fatima Al Mahmoud 15 Nov 2019

Mohammad Safadi Was Nominated For Prime Minister, Here’s What We Know About Him

On the evening of November 14, after exactly 29 days of ongoing protests, Lebanese politicians dropped a hint on who could possibly become our next Prime Minister.

Local media sources reported on whispers from Beit El Wasat about the possibility of naming former finance minister Mohammad Safadi as Lebanon’s next PM, heading what is being called a “techno-political government”.

Given Safadi’s implication in current corruption investigations, it’s safe to say that people were NOT happy.

Here’s what we know about our possible new Prime Minister:

1. He was born in Tripoli, Lebanon and he comes from a wealthy family of business people.

2. He’s 75 years old, but he’s young at heart.

3. He’s currently married to Violette Khairallah Safadi, former TV presenter who was appointed Minister of State for Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth in February 2019. (Valentine’s Day gift, perhaps?)

4. He has been a member of the Lebanese parliament since 2000. He served as Minister of Public Works and Transport in 2005, Minister of Economy and Commerce in 2008, and Minister of Finance in 2011.

5. He worked as a business manager in London for the head of the Saudi Air Force Prince Turki bin Nasser, a member of House of Saud, and has several business investments in Saudi Arabia, as well as Europe.

6. He was implicated in a controversial British-Saudi arms deal inquiry as ‘second middleman for Saudis’ (the first being Wafic Said, a Syrian-Saudi Arabian businessman).

According to The Guardian, an investigation launched by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) named Safadi as a beneficiary of secret funds channeled through his Swiss bank accounts from UK weapons giant BAE to Saudi officials.

7. He is a main shareholder in Stow Group, a real estate and investment holding that owns 50% of the Zaytouna Bay project as part of a joint venture with Solidere. In other words, he co-owns what is supposed to be public property.

Now if that was not infuriating enough, Safadi has been accused of renting the space for 2,500 L.L/square meter PER YEAR, only to then rent it to business owners for $10,000 per square meter.

And that’s not all. Over the years Safadi has been named in multiple corruption scandals including pushing for building an illegal port in Barbara, starting an illegal construction project in Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay, and withholding funds from the Public Works and Transportation Ministry in an attempt to pressure Ex Minister Ghazi Aridi into endorsing these illegal construction violations.

If he truly is the current ruling class’s number one nominee for Prime Minister, this just suggests a much larger underlying problem. Either they’re not listening to the people, or we have a genuine lack of “awedem” in power. Either way, to the streets!

*The Serious Fraud Office is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud and corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.