PA economy minister charged with corruption

Abu Libdeh, who denies charges, is accused of breach of trust, fraud, insider trading and embezzlement of public funds.

By
November 29, 2011 19:29
2 minute read.
PA Minister of National Economy Abu Libdeh

Palestinian Minister of National Economy Abu Libdeh (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian)

 
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PA Minister of Economy Hasan Abu Libdeh will stand trial for financial corruption, the Palestinian Authority’s prosecutor-general announced Tuesday.

According to the charge sheet submitted to a PA court in Ramallah, Abu Libdeh is accused of breach of trust, fraud, insider trading and embezzlement of public funds.

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The charges relate to the period when Abu Libdeh was chairman of the PA’s Capital Market Authority in 2008.

The minister denied the charges as rumors and fabrications.

He said he was being targeted for political reasons – especially because of the campaign that he has been leading to boycott settlement products.

Abu Libdeh is the second minister in the government headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to face serious corruption charges.

Earlier this year, PA Minister of Agriculture Ismail Daiq was also charged with corruption and is awaiting trial.

A third member of the Fayyad government, Minister of Labor Ahmad Majdalani, is under attack for calling Palestinian workers “brothers of whores” during a radio interview last week. The Palestinian Workers’ Union has called on Fayyad to fire Majdalani or face a general strike and street protests.

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After learning about the decision to press charges against him, Abu Libdeh immediately announced that he was suspending his membership in the government for the sake of clearing his name in court.

But the PA prosecutor-general, Ahmed Mughni, said that the law does not allow a minister to voluntarily suspend himself.

He said that only the prime minister or the government had the authority to suspend a minister for any reason.

Mughni said he wrote a letter to Fayyad asking him to suspend Abu Libdeh until the end of the court proceedings.

Abu Libdeh said he learned from the media about the decision to bring him to trial.

He said that he is the victim of a smear campaign designed to defame him and his work.

“For the past 40 years, I have contributed to building the homeland for all Palestinians,” Abu Libdeh said. “I tried to be the loyal soldier in the battle to defend our cause and spent time behind bars and under house arrest. But some don’t want to see success and can’t live with it. I’m fed up with ongoing attempts to defame me and my record.”

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