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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Palestinian Authority freezes bank accounts of "human rights" group

Leading Palestinian NGO accused of embezzling millions

from the News Page at International Christian Embassy Jerusalem via Isralert:
Officials and employees of leading Palestinian human rights group LAW stand accused of siphoning several million dollars in international donations into secret bank accounts, and using other funds to furnish lavish lifestyles, and to finance private commercial transactions.

Following a criminal complaint lodged with the Palestinian Authority by major European donors including Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, the PA has seized the bank accounts of several Jerusalem-based officials suspected of orchestrating the scam.

Among them is Khader Shkirat, the outspoken former head of LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment. Shikirat has been summoned to Ramallah for questioning over his use of some $10 million from philanthropic sources during the funding-rich Oslo years having been named in the complaint alongside 26 other employees.

The action comes after an audit report commissioned by the European donors found that some $2.35 million of their donations had been transferred to secret bank accounts and that Shkirat ran the organization as a private business. Among the long list of financial improprieties is Shkirat’s alleged use of $490,000 from LAW funds to conduct personal transactions among friends, accountants and senior staff and to acquire ownership in the Arab Phones Company, The Post reports.