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Lebanese prosecutor charges ex-PM and Bank Audi over loans

Lebanon's former Prime Minister and a candidate for the parliamentary election Najib Mikati, casts his vote at a polling station in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Lebanese public prosecutor has brought charges against former prime minister Najib Mikati and Bank Audi for making illicit gains through subsidized housing loans, state media and a judicial source said on Wednesday.

Both Mikati and the bank denied the accusations.

The charges by Mount Lebanon prosecutor Ghada Aoun were also against Mikati’s son Maher and brother Taha, state news agency NNA reported, saying she would refer the charges to a judge for investigation.

A judicial source confirmed the charges, which involve loans made by Bank Audi and subsidized by the central bank.

A communications adviser to Mikati told Reuters the loans were purely commercial and met central bank regulations.

The adviser said the charges appeared politically motivated, following criticism of President Michel Aoun and support for protests since last week against the political elite.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Bank Audi also denied any involvement in “illicit enrichment”.

Writing by Tom Perry, Ellen Francis, Eric Knecht; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne