Massive protests involving tens of thousands of people erupted across Lebanon on Friday as demonstrators shouted slogans calling for the removal of a political elite that they see as guilty of looting the national economy to the breaking point.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri hinted he might step down unless his reforms are passed by the government within the next 72 hours, Reuters reported.
The massive demonstrations, unseen since the Arab Spring, follow reports of a relationship between Hariri, who is married and the father of three children, and South-African model Candice Van Der Merwe.
In case you're wondering, this is Candice Van der Merwe, the South African model, who received $16 million from Lebanon's prime minister #saadhariri after they met on holiday. pic.twitter.com/1H5F1YnGG5— Nael نايل (@Nael_Shama) October 1, 2019
During that relationship, Hariri gifted the model $16 million, The New York Times reported in late September.Hariri is wealthy enough to offer such sums out of his own pocket, without resorting to corruption, according to a Times report. In 2013, Forbes reported that he was worth $1.9 billion.It was also noted that he was not prime minister when the two met, however he was the leader of his own Future Movement Party.
The relationship was made public after tax authorities in South Africa became suspicious when the model suddenly got roughly $16m. from a bank in Lebanon.
Van Der Merwe told the court in her native country that the money is a gift, so it couldn’t be taxed. She also revealed that the giver was the leader of Lebanon.
According to her, she was asked to join other models at a resort used by wealthy and powerful individuals. When they arrived, their passports were taken from them and they were warned not to take pictures of the other guests. That was were she met the Lebanese politician.
None of the people who usually represent the model agreed to speak with the Times in response to the original article.
Van Der Merwe is not the only model summoned to court to answer questions about money and taxes. Israeli model Bar Refaeli told a court in July that, during her relationship with US actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2009-2010, she was living with him in America and therefore should not be taxed as a full-time resident of Israel.