Bassam Abu Sharif, who served as an adviser to Yasser Arafat, called on the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday to demand the extradition of a former Palestinian official on suspicion of embezzling public funds.

Abu Sharif said the PA should seek Interpol’s help in locating Muhammad Rashid, who served as Arafat’s economic adviser, and seize his assets.

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“Failing to pursue this man, who is suspected of embezzlement, would be a crime against our people,” Abu Sharif said.

He estimated Rashid’s personal fortune at $600 million.

A PA official in Ramallah said Rashid has refused to return to Ramallah to answer questions about the allegations against him.

Abu Sharif called on the military rulers of Egypt to arrest Rashid, who is believed to be living in Cairo, and hand him over to the PA.

“Restoring the stolen money of the Palestinian people is a must – and a national duty,” he added.

The PA leadership has decided to ask Swiss authorities and other countries to freeze the bank accounts and assets of a number of former Palestinian officials suspected of stealing international donations earmarked for the Palestinians during the Arafat era, Palestinian sources said.

According to the sources, billions of dollars that allegedly went missing then are believed to have been invested in various economic projects in Egypt.

The sources said the PA was hoping that Egyptian authorities looking into cases of corruption of former government officials and aides to ousted president Hosni Mubarak would be able to discover what happened to the Palestinians’ money.

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