BEIRUT, Lebanon: The prime minister of Lebanon gave more than $16 million to a South African bikini model as a gift, according to court documents.
The duo was in a romantic relationship after they met at a luxury resort in the Seychelles.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri was not in office when he sent the money to Candice van der Merwe and the transfer does not violate any Lebanese or South African laws.
The gifts are not tied to Lebanon’s current economic woes. Hariri, a married father of three, is sufficiently wealthy to make private payments.
Forbes magazine has estimated his net worth in 2013 at $1.9 billion that was largely inherited from his father, Rafik Hariri, who also served as the prime minister of the country.
The PM continues to dodge any questions related to his relationship with the 26-year-old model or any gifts to her.
The bikini model was 20 years old with an annual income of $5,400 when she first received a gift of $15,299,965 from the now Lebanese PM raising suspicions among South African tax authorities.
When the government investigators questioned about the $15 million transfer, a bank official said, “The sender and beneficiary are boyfriend/girlfriend and are currently together in the Seychelles.”
“Lady luck, it would seem, suddenly smiled on the applicant,” a South African judge wrote.
The model contested in court that the amount was a gift and not taxable under SA law.
However, the authorities levied income tax on the sum and froze her assets and appointed a curator to oversee them until the matter was settled.
The case was later dismissed, following a counter suit by the model to demand compensation for all the grievances caused to her.
“The plaintiff’s relationship with Mr. Hariri was terminated, which resulted in the loss of financial benefits that would have accrued to her from the relationship if it had been allowed to persist without outside interference,” the suit reads.
Van der Merwe has sued the SA government officials for an astounding $65 million in damages.