Bankruptcy shock for Hizbullah

The case of a Lebanese financier who went bankrupt after investing hundreds of millions of other people’s money is sending shockwaves through Hizbullah and Lebanon’s Shia community.

Salah Ezzedine is thought to have lost more than $1 billion – which 
is affecting “thousands of Lebanese investors in the southern suburbs of Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, areas notable for positive Hizbullah sentiments”.

Ezzedine, from Maaroub near Tyre, is currently in custody while the authorities ascertain whether his bankruptcy “is fraudulent or of a technical nature”.

He is said to have "extensive connections" with senior members of Hizbullah. He owns Dar al-Hadi (a prominent Shia religious publishing house), and Hadi TV (a children’s channel), as well as a travel agency specialising in pilgrimages.

According to judicial sources cited by the Associated Press, he also had major business interests, particularly in oil and iron in Eastern Europe, and ran into trouble when oil prices fell last year.
The sources said he tried to make for his losses by taking money from Lebanese investors with promises of up to 40% returns on their deposits – which he was then unable to pay.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 3 September 2009.