PA to probe ex-Arafat aide's project

Legal measures considered to find out if money for Jordan tourist venture came from PA budget.

Arafat cabinet 224.88 (photo credit: AP [File])
Arafat cabinet 224.88
(photo credit: AP [File])
A former adviser to Yasser Arafat is planning to invest some $600 million in a tourist project in Jordan, prompting the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah to launch an investigation into the sources of the money. PA Prosecutor-General Ahmed al-Mughni said Wednesday he was studying the possibility of taking legal action against Khaled Salam, who served as Arafat's "financial adviser" until the Palestinian leader's death in November 2004. "We are considering legal measures to determine whether the money [for the project] came from the Palestinian Authority budget," Mughni said. He pointed out that the project was located in Aqaba. The adviser, who is also known as Muhammad Rashid, briefly disappeared from the political scene following Arafat's death. Last year, he resurfaced in Ramallah amid reports that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had appointed him as a mediator between Fatah and Hamas. The decision to launch an investigation against Rashid is the latest in a string of financial scandals that have hit the PA leadership in the past few days. Rouhi Fattouh, one of Abbas's top aides, was caught earlier this week as he tried to smuggle 3,000 cellular phones through the Allenby Bridge, using his Israeli-issued VIP pass. Fattouh, who has blamed his driver for the botched smuggling attempt, has been temporarily suspended from his job pending the conclusion of an investigation. In another case, documents released by the PA's ambassador to Romania, Adli Sadek, revealed that Ahmed Qurei, head of the PA negotiating team with Israel, had embezzled $3m. from public funds. Qurei has strongly denied the allegation, arguing that he merely transferred the sum to a bank account belonging to Fatah.