An anti-graft court has convicted Mohammed Rashid on Thursday on charges of corruption and embezzlement, Reuters has reported.Rashid, an aide to late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, has been convicted in absentia to 15 years imprisonment and has been ordered to return $33.5 million in stolen funds.
The court was specially convened to investigate the case, which Rashid has dismissed as nothing more than politically motivated. Furthermore, he has countered that Abbas and his family have profited from such embezzlement themselves.
A recent Foreign Policy article, by Jonathan Schanzer, alleged that Abbas’ family had embezzled large sums from the Palestinian public, that his sons, Yasser and Tarek, ran companies that have benefited in contracts from the Palestinian Authority and that Yasser Abbas’ Falcon Tobacco runs a monopoly on the sale of American made cigarettes.
Corruption charges were regularly levied at the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. In 2003, the International Monetary Fund found that $900 million of public money had been transferred to a private account in his name.
The IMF found no impropriety as Arafat was still using the funds for the public good, although a firm of American accountants hired by the PA concluded that the money was being used to finance Arafat’s personal investment portfolio.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, had an arrest warrant placed against her in Tunisia in late 2011 following the ousting of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali , allegedly for corruption, and had in 2007 been stripped of her Tunisian citizenship by the previous regime.