Yasser Arafat’s former financial adviser, who was recently found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced in absentia, has revealed that Fatah has a secret bank account in Jordan with a balance of $39 million.
Mohammed Rashid, who was the late Palestinian leader’s “moneyman,” said he has “all the necessary documents” to prove the existence of the account, the Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday.
The secret bank account, according to Rashid, has only been operated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and two of his associates who have been authorized by Fatah, Abbas’ nationalist political faction.
Rashid said that Abbas has long denied the existence of such a bank account for Fatah.
“According to my documents, $13 million came for [sic] the U.S., while the remaining sum came from friendly Arab countries,” Rashid told the Post.
He also said that the original sum of the concealed account was $44 million, but dropped after the Fatah leadership spent $5 million on the party’s sixth annual conference in 2009.
The revelations are thought to be part of an ongoing war between Rashid and Abbas. Rashid was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison and fined $15 million for siphoning off millions of dollars in public funds. He and two associates were convicted of taking a total of $33.5 million from the foreign donor-financed Palestinian Investment Fund.
Described by analysts as the biggest case against corruption that has festered during the Palestinian Authority’s 20-year history, Rashid has long-accused Abbas of leading a witch-hunt against his predecessor’s old allies.
He has now challenged Abbas to deny the existence of the secret Fatah account, “saying he would then reveal the identity of the two associates and the name of the bank and the Arab countries that deposited the money,” the Post reported.
Rashid, an Iraqi Kurd who worked alongside Arafat for more than a decade, has denied wrongdoing. He left the Palestinian territories after Arafat’s death in November 2004 and has rarely been seen since.
Meanwhile, the Fatah Central Committee, a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, on Saturday launched an attack, dubbing him a “criminal” and “traitor.”
The committee said in a communiqué issued in Ramallah that Rashid was “playing a central role in a new conspiracy against President Abbas, who represents the will of the Palestinian people and who has become a symbol of steadfastness in the face of pressure and plots,” the Post reported.
Earlier this year, Rashid appeared on Al Arabiya TV criticizing the Palestinian Authority for corruption.
Rashid said he was prepared to report for interrogation only before an independent commission of inquiry and not one that is controlled by Abbas.
The PA’s Anti-Corruption Commission, which issued the arrest warrant against him, is itself very corrupt, Rashid added.
He pointed out that two ministers in the Palestinian National Authority cabinet have been accused of involvement in corruption scandals and threatened to expose them, but the anti-corruption commission have not since taken measures against them.