February 11, 2004.
French prosecutors yesterday said they had opened an inquiry into transfers
totaling nine million euros into bank accounts held in their country by Suha
Arafat, wife of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The Paris public prosecutor confirmed a report in Le Canard Enchaine weekly
that an inquiry into financial matters connected to Suha Arafat, who lives in
Paris, was launched last October, based on information provided by the Bank of
France and a government anti-money laundering body.
The prosecutor’s office said it would check transfers from a Swiss-based
institution into two separate accounts held by Suha Arafat in Paris between
July 2002 and July 2003.
The office said the investigations is at a preliminary stage. Suha Arafat
could not be contacted for comment.
An International Monetary Fund report on Palestinian Authority accounts
between 1997 and 2003 found that some $900 million in PA funds, some of
them contributed by donor nations, had been diverted by PA officials to
A hefty chunk of these funds, around $10 million, had reportedly been
transferred to accounts owned by Suha Arafat in Paris. She allegedly used
hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal matters and the rest of the money
remained in the accounts.
The IMF report also found that a large sum of $74 million was earmarked for
Yasser Arafat’s office and there was no explanation of the uses to which this
money was put.
In a parallel development, investigators from the European Union anti-fraud
office (OLAF), who are looking into allegations that the PA diverted money from
European donors into terror activity, have concluded that documents the IDF
seized during Operation Protective Shield are authentic.
The documents suggested Arafat ordered that funds from European sources be
used to support such activity – some of the money reportedly went to the Al
Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in terror strikes.
Investigators from OLAF, an independent body authorized to review matters
connected to all spheres of EU activity, came to Israel two weeks ago to collect
data on allegations of PA involvement in terror, and to review the documents
confiscated by the IDF.
After studying the materials, the OLAF investigators concluded the documents
were genuine. Sources close to the investigation said findings based on the
OLAF officials’ trip to Israel will be incorporated in their final report, which
should be completed in two months.