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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Usury is a Religious Experience :: Maddoff's Rolodex

A Lot of International Playboys are giving Ponzi a Bad Name
Retrieved by Pat Darnell from Cell Block One

[SOURCE] "I inherited $100,000 from my father to continue my studies. I invested them with Ezzeddine, and now all my dreams are destroyed," says Mohammad, a 25-year-old student from Maaroub. "I don't know what I was thinking when I invested with him. We thought he was Hizballah's financier."

"Lebanon's" Bernie Madoff: A Scandal Taints Hizballah
By Andrew Lee Butters / Beirut, Youssef Ajami / EPA
Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2009 Lebanese businessman Salah Ezzeddine

The organization [Hizballah] denied having an official relationship with him [Ezzeddine], but Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallahhas acknowledged that the group was being tainted by association, saying he would mount an investigation to account for investor losses. But many investors have said Hizballah officials not only encouraged them to put their money and trust in Ezzeddine but also claimed that his investments were halal, acceptable according to Muslim laws that forbid profiting from interest -- which they equate with usury. [TIME Photo Essay HERE]
Indeed, one Hizballah source told TIME that some top leaders did business with Ezzeddine. The Lebanese press has published unsubstantiated reports that his enterprise collapsed when a check he wrote to a senior Hizballah official bounced and that, as a result, the financier went into hiding until Hizballah security forces found him and turned him over to the government.

Ezzeddine's schemes — supposed investments in oil, publishing, metals and television, spread out from the Gulf to Africa — are unraveling on a spectacular scale, and it is casting Hizballah in an unflattering light. The house of cards began falling earlier this month, when his businesses went bankrupt, ostensibly from the effects of the global financial crisis. But rumors swirled in the press of a pyramid scheme of more than $1 billion, and the local media dubbed Ezzeddine the Lebanese Bernie Madoff.

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