Beirut: Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, gave a South African bikini model nearly $US16 million ($23.8m) after meeting her on holiday, it has emerged, as Lebanon faces violent protests over an economic crisis.
Candice van der Merwe met Mr Hariri at a private resort in the Seychelles in 2013 when she was 20. The married father of three, who is Lebanon’s most powerful Sunni politician, was 43. When asked why Mr Hariri gave her the money, she responded that they had begun a relationship.
“I have also been told I have a very engaging personality,” she said, in court documents obtained by The New York Times.
The gift would have remained secret were it not for South African tax authorities, which froze Ms van der Merwe’s assets, asking her to explain the change in her fortunes.