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TMCNet:  Sehnaoui says to sue, put Future MP in jail

[January 31, 2013]

Sehnaoui says to sue, put Future MP in jail

BEIRUT, Jan 31, 2013 (The Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday he would sue Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef over accusations of embezzlement and vowed to "put him in jail." "I will file a slander lawsuit against him [Youssef] ... because he cannot [attack] us or telecoms employees and not be held accountable," Sehnaoui told a news conference.

"I will put him in jail," vowed Sehnaoui, a member in Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement.

On Wednesday, Youssef leveled corruption charges against Sehnaoui, saying the telecoms minister had embezzled more than $60 million by failing to put the $85-million 3G expansion contract to tender.

"The minister himself admitted that the unit cost was $50,000. Therefore, expanding the touch [mobile] network through the new 300 [satellite] stations should not have cost more than $15 million," Youssef said.

He called on Sehnaoui to explain to the Lebanese the use of the remaining funds, adding: "Does the cost of licensing and software alone amount to $70 million Of course not." The Future Movement MP argued that if Lebanon's telecoms provider "touch" bought a license for 1 million users, which he said he doubted, the cost should not exceed $5 million.

Youssef accused the Telecoms Ministry of bias in awarding the contract and said no effort had been made to draw offers from other international suppliers of telecoms equipment.

___ (c)2013 The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon) Visit The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon) at www.dailystar.com.lb/ Distributed by MCT Information Services

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