Chapter 31:

Houbeika hit the Jackpot.

Elie Hobeika hit the jackpot when he was appointed to the Electric and Hydraulic Resources Ministry. In turn, he appointed Fadi Saroufim, Cabinet Director, and started his business. His ambition knew no bounds. Apart from Feghali and Saroufim, another key partner in his new business was Fadi Roumanos, an expert in insurance and back-street affairs.

Roumanos also worked for Rend Moawad and pimps for Fadi Saroufim who, of late, turned into a lady-killer. The association allows Roumanos to obtain important hydroelectric projects from the Ministry through one of his girlfriends, Joyce Sahhab, and passes them on to René Moawad.

Fadi Saroufim had a good coach who taught him about the embezzlement activities and the illegal 10 percent commission. Samir Korban is the retired director of the Electricity Board Authority who would call on him daily at his Ministry’s office. Saroufim, soon set up a group of regular contractors to secure the Cabinet’s instant approval of all projects submitted. They are Jean Naimeh (Amigo) Nazih Bridy, Sayd Estephan, Elie’ Moghabghab and Elie Maalouf who all have the right connections.

Fadi Saroufim gets 10 percent of every large or small electricity or hydroelectric water blueprint project. In addition, he receives substantial presents such as cars and solid gold gadgets offered to him or to his wife Wilheimina (Lina). Saroufim holds all the strings at the Ministry from credits, to allocations, purchase, petrol coupons, as well as the staff canteen and catering services.

Fadi Saroufim is a Palestinian who became naturalized Lebanese just a year ago by Michael Murr’s “grace”. Saroufim was once Joseph Asmar wife’s chauffeur. After Hobeika’s defeat and our headlong flight to Zahleh, he first went to Jordan. When we settled in the Bekaa, Hobeika sent for him and he became the official executioner. He supervised the execution of Hobeika’s victims: Issam Awwad; George Massoud; Tony Haddadand George Khawand and know where their bodies were just dumped.

Today, Saroufim, the Director General of the Electricity Board, owns several pieces of real estate including many apartments in Hazmieh, Mar Takla, and Tahwitet El Nahr where he houses his parents, a residence in the Baabdat Shalimar compound, a duplex in the Kessrouan Satellity, a beach chalet in Samaya, a luxury office in Mkalles which he claims is his uncle’s, a plot in Jdeideh and others in the Kessrouan. He has bulky bank accounts in the Audeh Bank and other small investment groups. Fadi Saroufim has a private thief at the electricity center by the name of George Baaklini who does all his dirty work.

By 1997, Saroufim opened secret bank accounts in Switzerland. He still impudently claims all his real estate and properties belong to his uncle, Heshmi, a Palestinian who lives in Jordan and cannot get a thousand dollars out without the Official Jordanian Exchange Control approval.

Among the other profiteers, is Hobeika’s uncle George Hobeika, the Lebanese army officer who betrayed Aoun and is now Chief Executive Officer of the Matn Water Authority. Also included is Hobeika’s brother, Charles, who was granted a seven million dollar water and electricity project in the Akkar. Rudy Edward Barudy his Councilor, seized the all important petroleum and fuel deals in collusion with Ziad Ghandour. Ghandour who owns a large petroleum company that supplies the Electricity Board with weekly fuel cargoes for the Zouk Power plant. His deals are worth millions of dollars. Barudy’s uncle is the sole agent for Insaldo Company because the former Minister George Frem, a decent, honest man was sacked and replaced by a corrupt and greedy one, Hobeika.

As to René Emile Kehdo Moawad, he heads the insurance fraud schemes. He and Kamal Feghali own the following sole or joint companies under the following registration numbers: 28947 Faghali; 364 Moawad; 52541 Joint Moawad and Feghali; 1760 Moawad; 58296 Moawad; 46180 Moawad; 16657 Moawad; 21223 Moawad; Michel Nassar; 65085 Moawad.

All of Moawad’s companies are in fact Elie Hobeika’s, and together they use them as a means and a cover for their corrupt practices and fraudulent claims with insurance companies.

Hobeika, is always behind the scene. He uses René Moawad as a front. He has a joint trading company with George Hawi, former secretary General of the Lebanese Communist Party. A noted insurance expert, Richard Srour, Representative of Mc Laren's Group, Loss Adjusters, is the third associate. Srour, was, at one time, the Lloyd’s agent in Middle East who specialized in fire and arson loss. Srour is also Moawad’s partner in all his plans, projects and blueprints.

The following are examples of blatant fraudulent insurance claims and arsons committed: General Aoun’s armored Mercedes was burnt up. The Libano Swiss Insurance company paid a $170,000 United States dollar premium. I, Cobra, personally set fire to a large warehouse in Zalka. The Kamel Insurance Company paid a premium of $700,000 United States dollars which I myself went to withdraw and handed over to Moawad who naturally handed it to Hobeika.

The biggest of all their insurance frauds occurred in 1996 when René Moawad and Richard Srour asked us to set fire to a large warehouse in Zouk, containing toys worth $170,000 United States dollars. They falsified the invoices and bills sky rocketing the value of the goods to a worth of two million United States dollars. That was one of their biggest hits. They had insured the warehouse with Saba Nader Bankeris Insurance Company.

Following normal procedure, the company agreed to pay a one million seven hundred thousand United States dollar premium. I contacted Lloyd's of London through a claim handler friend of mine working there and stated that there was a fraudulent claim and that I could produce proof of my claim. The Lloyd’s of London promised to pay me a 10 percent bonus when and if I did. Saba Nader was immediately contacted by the Lloyd’s of London to warn him against payment. He was notified that someone in Hobeika’s close circle possessed irrefutable evidence of the fraud. Nader, dreading Hobeika, went straight to Ghazi Kanaan to report the facts. Kariaan contacted Adnan Addoum, the Lebanese General Prosecutor and instructed him to place René Moawad under arrest. Moawad ran off to Hobeika for protection. Stymied and caught unaware, he bribed me to back out and forget all about it. He gave me one of the Power projects in Akkar for $350,000 United States dollars which later Fadi Saroufim swiped from me. I got $100,000 dollars. Raoul Tomb, the Electricity Board Administrative Director cashed $50,000 and Saroufim took the remaining $200,000 United States dollars.

René Moawad, however could not forget the miscarriage of accusations against him. He was in a blazing fury. He intimidated me, threatened to dump me. I knew he was “His Master’s Voice”, but I was unruffled. That is when Elie Hobeika got into the picture. It was his loss after all. He first threatened me with the Syrians unless I accepted, in silence, to stand as a stooge, as he pinned on me all the assassinations, rackets, frauds, extortions, explosions committed by him and his hero-worshippers. It was clear he was kicking me under the rugs. But he was in for a surprise.

In 1997, I managed to flee safely out of Lebanon and out of reach, though I am perfectly aware he wants me dead. I am his nightmarish obsession. After 20 years of loyal service and blind adulation, and craze, he set off, in a jiff second to nick me.

Elie Hobeika’s sole interest has been his money and women. Being separated from Gina since 1989, and hating her, he sits up late at night in his Ministry’s office and gives indulges himself in his voyeurism hobby. There, he keeps a wide range of professional binoculars and field glasses. From the last story of the Mar Michael Electricity Board Building where his office lies, a couple of boys, specially Hassoun El Zein, Walid’s brother, would watch women in opposite buildings and catches them unaware until something interesting happens. He calls Hobeika over for a free peep-show that satisfies some of his insatiable sexual urges, while outside, he keeps his polished aura bright and shining.

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