(CHICAGO) — In 2003, Forbes magazine estimated Yasser Arafat’s wealth at about $300 million. No verifying source was listed. Fatah was notoriously corrupt. It still is today. Its finances are a black hole. Bribes, foreign aid, secret investments, hidden bank accounts, slush funds and other ill-gotten gains define them. Israeli intelligence estimated Arafat’s net worth […]
(CHICAGO) — In 2003, Forbes magazine estimated Yasser Arafat’s wealth at about $300 million. No verifying source was listed. Fatah was notoriously corrupt. It still is today.
Its finances are a black hole. Bribes, foreign aid, secret investments, hidden bank accounts, slush funds and other ill-gotten gains define them.
Israeli intelligence estimated Arafat’s net worth at $1.3 billion. U.S. accountants conducted a PA authorized audit. They estimated about $1 billion.
Current appointed PA prime minister, Salam Fayyad, once served as Arafat’s finance minister. He confirmed massive corruption, abuse and impropriety.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, got a $200,000 monthly allowance. Top Fatah officials cash in. Abbas benefits hugely.
Previous articles discussed his collaborationist history. He sold out at Oslo. He never looked back. Perhaps betraying his people began earlier. He’s a world class scoundrel.
Edward Said once called him “moderately corrupt.” Apparently, he didn’t know the half of it. Reports suggest he amassed a huge fortune. He’s super-rich.
As’ad AbuKhalil publishes “The Angry Arab” site. On Nov. 14, he headlined, “The personal fortune of Abbas.” He cited YNet News.
It said he earns $1 million a month. Not bad, if true. Obama gets $400,000 a year. Inlight Press was cited. It said Abbas holds several Jordanian accounts. He’s got over $500 million. It’s mostly stolen Palestinian taxpayer money and other embezzled funds.
“The accounts are not under any national or international scrutiny.”
“Recently, Abbas urged Moscow to supply him with a new advanced presidential jet worth $55 million despite the fact that he has a new Global Express speed jet bought for $53 million at his disposal. In addition he also uses a 504 Challenger jet.”
Abbas took office on Jan. 15, 2005. From then until now, his expenses exceeded a billion dollars. PA sources say he has extensive property holdings.
His sons, Tarek and Yasser, profit handsomely from all PA projects. “This explains why (he) tried to promote a Dead Sea tourism project funded by Gulf states. It is claimed that his sons won contracts for more than $250 million.”
On May 18, Gatestone Institute International Policy Council headlined, “How Much is Mahmoud Abbas Worth? Try $100 Million.”
Mohammed Rashid was Arafat’s financial adviser and trusted aide. He handled hundreds of millions of dollars donated by Washington, EU nations and regional states.
He cashed in like other Fatah officials. On May 17, Haaretz ran a AP story headlined, “Arafat aide accused of embezzlement.”
He’s sought for allegedly stealing millions of dollars of public funds. He’s suspected of transferring them from the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) into fake companies.
PA Anti-Corruption Commission head Rafik Natsheh accused him of embezzlement. He’s investigating 85 other PA members. Corruption allegations forced two cabinet ministers to resign.
One observer called the commission’s work secretive. It’s impossible to know what goes on. At the same time, it selectively decides who to investigate and where to keep hands off. Operating this way destroys all credibility.
Rashid denied all charges. He threatened to expose Abbas corruption. He calls him the “Sultan of Ramallah.” He’s thin-skinned, vengeful and tolerates no opposition.
He said he “made a huge mistake and must suffer the consequences.”
After Arafat’s November 2004 death, Rashid left Palestine. His whereabouts aren’t known. He’s been “moving between countries.”
An arrest warrant was issued. PA officials asked several countries to extradite him. They requested his assets be frozen. Interpol was asked for help. International donors expressed concern about huge sums gone missing.
In early June, a Ramallah anti-graft court convicted Rashid in absentia. He and two others were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. They were ordered to return 33.5 million euros in stolen funds.
Throughout much of Arafat’s rule, rampant corruption allegations surfaced often. He and many other Fatah officials were suspected for good reason.
Funds to help Palestine went into private coffers. Rashid apparently cashed in like others. He handled PA finances. He knows where the bodies are buried.
Abbas accused him of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. He said Abbas embezzled $100 million. Perhaps he knows less than he thinks or isn’t telling all he knows.
He said Fatah has a secret Jordanian bank account containing about $40 million. Millions of U.S. donations are included. An unnamed source said Abbas instructed his General Intelligence Service to find Rashid and kill him.
He wants what he knows buried with him. He also wants imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti kept there.
He’s a prisoner of conscience. On May 20, 2004, Israel convicted him unjustly on bogus terrorist charges. He received five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years.
If free, he’d be Palestine’s president, not Abbas. He was hugely popular. He still is. He honorably supports the rights of people. Abbas sold them out long ago.
Israel imprisoned Barghouti to prevent his election. Abbas wants him kept there. He also wants Hamas destroyed.
He’s a longtime Israeli collaborator, a traitor, a world class scoundrel and embezzler. Why Palestinians tolerate him, they’ll have to explain.
Hamas’ 2006 legislative victory followed promises of fighting corruption. Washington, EU countries and regional states contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Much of it ends up unaccounted for.
Abbas stands accused of enriching himself throughout his tenure. He has huge sums stashed abroad. He has hidden investments and secret land deals.
He helped his sons become millionaires. A July 2012 House Foreign Relations Committee investigated chronic PA corruption.
Testimony given said “corruption within the Palestinian political establishment has been endemic for decades.”
“Reports suggest that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, has used his position of power to line his own pockets as well as those of his cohort of cronies, including his sons, Yasser and Tarek.”
The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) was established to serve all Palestinians. Abbas “asserted complete control.” He appoints cronies as board members. He rejects requested audits.
U.S. taxpayer funds were stolen. Accountability is absent. Operations are opaque. Transparency doesn’t exist. Rampant corruption is endemic.
PA officials enrich themselves at the expense of their own people. Abbas and his sons perhaps profited most of all. Legitimate governance is impossible with him in charge.
“While Abbas prosecutes Rashid, he conveniently avoids controversy surrounding his sons” and his own ill-gotten gains.
Jonathan Schanzer is Foundation for Defense of Democracies research vice president. He testified before the House Foreign Relations Committee.
He said Abbas and his sons line their pockets lavishly. Others made similar comments. They’re involved in all kinds of shady deals. They profit hugely. Bush and Obama officials did nothing to stop misuse of U.S. funding.
Abbas prevents internal investigations. He enforces censorship. He targets press freedom. He blocks PA criticism. He wants his own malfeasance and that of his sons suppressed. He also crushes political opposition.
He’s aged 77. He nears retirement. He has no vice president or heir apparent. Israeli officials wants control over who replaces him.
They also want occupation harshness unchallenged. Massive corruption is a small price to pay. Perhaps they steal plenty on their own.
Washington provides billions of dollars annually. How much goes to secret coffers, who knows. Apparently don’t ask, don’t tell is policy. Media scoundrels go along and say nothing.
A final comment
On Dec. 10, Maan News said Palestine’s Anti-Corruption Commission will institute legal proceedings against PA officials suspected of embezzling millions of dollars.
Commission head Natsheh said secret investigations were ongoing for sometime. Officials in Palestine suspected of complicity with Rashid are targeted. His whereabouts remain unknown.
The case goes well beyond him alone. Without naming names, Natsheh said Palestinian corruption is much bigger than what’s known and/or alleged about Rashid.
It remains to be seen who’s charged. Don’t expect Abbas or others he wants protected to be among them.