Benali Denies Allegations of “Kiss” with Australian Businessman and Plans Legal Action


Moroccan Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, Leila Benali, has firmly denied any connection to a photo published by “The Australian” newspaper, which claimed to show her exchanging an intimate kiss with Andrew Forrest, an Australian businessman and director of the Fortescue group. Benali announced her intention to take legal action.

In an official statement, Benali asserted that she had no connection to the aforementioned photo, emphasizing her commitment to high moral standards and exemplary conduct, as well as her reputation as a Moroccan mother and a responsible minister in the Moroccan government defending the country’s higher interests.

Benali’s denial comes in response to what she called a “defamatory publication” by “The Australian” newspaper, which was relayed by some national media without verifying its authenticity. She stated that the photo, accompanied by a comment suggesting she was with the Australian businessman, was purely fabricated and entirely unfounded.

Benali indicated that this type of defamation was not a first and that it occurred in a context of retaliation and targeting by entities with specific interests. She reaffirmed that public contracts and tenders in the field of energy investments, supervised by her ministry, adhered to rules of good governance and institutional independence.

She expressed her gratitude to all those who supported her, including officials and civil society, while confirming her right to take all legal measures to protect her interests and those of her ministry.

“The Australian” newspaper had alleged that the “mysterious woman” appearing in a photo with Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest in the streets of Paris was Leila Benali. The photo allegedly sparked speculation about the nature of the relationship between Benali and Forrest, the second richest person in Australia in 2024.

The newspaper noted that Benali had met Forrest on several occasions, including officially receiving him in Rabat and encountering him in Davos. It was suggested that this relationship might explain Fortescue’s increased activity in Morocco, including a joint project with the OCP group to supply green hydrogen, ammonia, and fertilizers.

The newspaper also mentioned that Forrest was practically separated from his wife Nicola Forrest, although they were still officially married. Forrest’s communication team declined to comment on these allegations.

Forrest, nicknamed “the overseas investor” and “the pioneer of clean energy,” is also known for his philanthropic work. He and his wife previously announced that the majority of their fortune would go to charity and not to their children.

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