Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hajj Ponzi: Special Victims Unit

One of the biggest civilian financial heists in the glorious history of Lebanon remains off the media and political radar except for a couple of blurbs in some papers praising the virtues of Salah Ezzeddine, the pious crook. That might have something to do with the fact that the powers behind the media outlets are themselves products of much larger Ponzi schemes albeit officially sanctioned and democratically endorsed ones. Another reason is that this specific scam targeted a specific geographic and sectarian segment of Lebanese society, so the other segments don't feel that this issue concerns them. But make no mistake about it, if you factor in that Salah Ezzeddine was in Tyre and not in NYC, the Hajj's $1 billion loot trumps Bernie Madoff's $30 billion in its impact.

I want to focus on a town that was hit hard by Ezzeddine, you have to give it to this guy for good scouting. Speculation has the border village of Yaroun south of Bint Jbeil as the number one loser in this ordeal with 160,000,000 in solid assets..... no, liquid cash.... no, what is the vapor form of the US dollar? The thing about Yaroun is that even though it is infested with tens of million dollar mansions, its population outside of summer is under 160, the biggest business investments in it are a gas station and a falafel shack. In the pre-war years its people lived off the land, tobacco farming more specifically, today they live on and off foreign lands...and we're not talking about Dubai here, the closest choice of a settling point for Yarounis is 10 time zones away. So what to expect of a group of people who have $160,000,000 disposable cash for shady investments yet have not invested in say a school, even though $160 million dollar are enough to create job opportunities in productive sectors for a few thousand people and put much of the youth in the whole kazaa of Bint Jbeil to work.... at home. Off course, to be fair this behavior is not unique to the people of this village although it is strongly marked there.

Sure you might say the Lebanese government never encouraged the development of these remote areas, and even when they did the liberated areas in the South never saw any of the cash earmarked in the yearly budget for the Council of the South which was used by the Amal Movement as its private fund. But now we are venturing into official scams and I don't want to do that now, because today is all about private initiative.

Salah Ezzeddine had it, the people of Yaroun will never do.


Anonymous said...

"a group of people who have $160,000,000 disposable cash for shady investments yet have not invested in say a school". Good one.!

Anonymous said...

Yaroun's Hoodwink
The reason that there are no industrial and commercial sector developments in areas in South Lebanon, like Yaroun, is the fact that Lebanon's neighbor to the south has yet to allow any form of long term peace and stability. Moreover, it is important to remember that that country has been readily willing obliterate any form of industrialization in this part of the world. For they are the ones who destroyed any and all factories, as menial as Yogurt producing plants and plastic chair production centers during the last war.
So its important (no...crucial) not to point the finger at the innocent party.

The lack of stability, as history has shown, proves an impediment to any form of socioeconomic advancement.

Given the opportunity the people of Yaroun would turn their region into a flourishing commercial center of the South Lebanon.
Let it be known that 100’s of millions (if not billions) accumulated by these so called "simple" people did not grow on trees. Ingenuity, motivation, and dedication on behalf of Yarounites in the diaspora is what rewarded them with wealth.
From Australia, to Panama, to New York, to Detroit and Los Angeles the people of Yaroun excelled in any and every field of business they pursued. Obviously, through their hard work and perspiration.
So you bloggers, who are insinuating that the people of Yaroun deserved "what was coming to them”, should wake up to the truth. The truth that these people where victimized not unlike the innocent investors who were hoodwinked by Bernard Madoff and his demonic "Ponzi" Scheme in NYC.

Anonymous said...

I like many others was born to a family born in yaroun, and occasionally visit this beautiful place, and in all honesty to say that the money that had been lost was from ALL hard work, and perseverance is really in my eyes being bias, no form of disrespect intended, subhanallah to every uphill their is a downhill.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I agree with a few of the things Jamal states about Ahel Yaroun. But there are things I have to disagree on.

To start, and with the exception of a few, Yarounis are God-fearing people who stay loyal to Lebanon and its people. While they build big mansions, drive hummers and X5s, most of these people worked on the streets of L.A. and N.Y.C. among other places to make a living and more. So its sad to see what happened to them

But please don't forget that the wealth they acquire is mostly put in Lebanese banks in Tyre and the like. That alone helps the lebanese economy tremendously. They may not have the educated mind to do something constructive like build a school or a hospital in the south, but they are still Lebanese people who invest in Lebanon, whether it is by putting their money in banks or spending it when they visit every summer on gifts for others.


Anonymous said...

There is a primary school in yaroun which is funded by "Les soeurs salvationnaires de Malte" it is sufficient for the winter population of yaroun, as there are hardly any youth there (maximum of 60)Hence not enough number for a high school, in modern countries the radius is 5 km between suburbs that have secondary schools, so bintjbeil does the job . The christian youth tend to live in beirut.Muslims are mostly abroad. The big numbers you see are only holidaymakers in summer. And as for the Caza in general, the yarounis are a central nerve, as they invest in banks of bint jbeil and tyre, thats sufficient for the local industry, i might agree that ahel yaroun are probably not the most knowledged and educated peeps, but there are heaps of other sophisticated lads with post post higher education (aitaroun and ainata even bintjbeil) that have not enlightened the area and shared us with a genuine approach on how to transform such rural areas and develop essential infrastructures. As for why they invested such amounts of cash? Maybe a sort of appreciation to the resistance, which salah ezzedine was "supposedly" close to. It was also a deceiving way to double up to 380 million, they would have needed the capital, probably for them to start building runways, since the area is in great need of an airport!!!