The Lebanese Bernie Madoff only ripped off victims to the tune of $1 billion:
NYT: The money disappeared, judicial authorities say, in a billion-dollar pyramid scheme that has riveted this country. Its mastermind, a businessman named Salah Ezzedine, was charged with fraud on Saturday and is being called the “Lebanese Bernie Madoff” in local newspapers. Bankers say it is the biggest fraud of its kind this country has ever seen.
Ezzedine seems to have screwed lots of very poor people, offering 40 and 50 per cent profits with no paperwork for alleged investments in commodities like gold and oil.
But what makes this story interesting is that, like Madoff, the country’s ruling elite got caught up. The pyramid scheme master-mind had close ties to Hezbollah, the Times reports, and officials in the radical party lost money too.
Commoners caught up in the scheme are calling for Hezbollah to compensate them. Given how U.S. clawbacks are going — not to mention Lebanon is still recovering from war with Israel — it’s not looking good.
Image: Bryan Denton for The New York Times