x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Yasser Arafat's financial adviser faces embezzlement charges

he former financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, is suspected of transferring millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund and setting up fake companies.

RAMALLAH // The shadowy financial adviser of the late Yasser Arafat is being sought on suspicion he stole millions of dollars in public funds, the top Palestinian anti-corruption campaigner said yesterday.

It is the most high-profile case since the Palestinian Authority established its Anti-Corruption Commission and a special court two years ago to deal with such cases, the panel's chief, Rafik Natche, said.

The former financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, is suspected of transferring millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund and setting up fake companies, Mr Natche said. Mr Rashid has denied wrongdoing.

Mr Rashid left the Palestinian territories after Arafat's death in 2004 and is moving between countries, Mr Natche said. The Palestinian foreign and justice ministries have asked several countries to extradite Mr Rashid and freeze his assets.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Interpol is also being asked for help.

Mr Rashid's current whereabouts is unclear, though the satellite TV station Al-Arabiya has been broadcasting a series of interviews with him since last week.

In a segment last week, Mr Rashid denied he was formally asked to appear before a Palestinian court. He said he was asked in 2008 to provide documents about the investment fund, and that he told Palestinian officials that the documents were at the fund's office. He said he was not contacted since then.

Mr Rashid, a Kurd who also went by the name Khaled Salam, befriended top PLO officials in the 1980s. He became Arafat's top financial adviser when the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, following interim peace deals with Israel.

Mr Natche said the charges against Mr Rashid were filed 10 days ago.

"This man came to the Palestinian revolution" with nothing, Mr Natche said. "We want to ask where did he get all his money from? This is Palestinian money and should be returned to the Palestinian people."

Mr Natche said 85 cases are currently pending before the corruption court.