Lebanese authorities detained in Beirut several individuals involved in the alleged smuggling of a sum of $9 million in cash from Turkey.
Although the information regarding the incident remains inconsistent, here is what has been revealed so far.
On Saturday, July 4th, a private jet arrived at the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport from Turkey, transporting $5 million in cash. The next day, a different private plane also landed in the airport, carrying another $4 million.
The suspicious incident prompted security forces to arrest the people involved in bringing in the money. They were identified as two Turkish nationals and two Syrian nationals.
In a press release, Interior Minister Mohammad Fehmi said, “We don’t know whether these funds are for smuggling and dollar manipulation, or to fuel violent movements in the Lebanese street.”
Curiously, the detained individuals claimed that the source of the money was gold trading in Turkey although the country’s authorities prohibit the transfer of cash money out of its territory.
Moreover, when asked about the destination of the money, the transporters claimed that it belonged to two major money transfer companies operating in Lebanon.
However, the said companies denied the claim, a judicial source told Mustaqbal Web.
The same source said that the Turkish nationals will be released soon while the Syrians will remain in custody until investigations reveal more information.
After the interrogations revealed contradictions in the detainees’ narratives, the real source and purpose of the money became a bigger cause of concern for Lebanese authorities.
Perhaps the question that concerns them the most at the moment is what Minister Fehmi asked in his press release: “What brought these people to Lebanon carrying this money?”