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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arafat Diverted $900M, IMF Says

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- An audit of the Palestinian Authority revealed that President Yasser Arafat diverted $900 million in public funds to a special bank account that he controlled and that most of the money was later invested in Palestinian assets, an International Monetary Fund official said Saturday.

Karim Nashashibi, IMF resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza, credited openness and transparency in the Palestinian Authority's accounting under Finance Minister Salam Fayad for disclosing the transfers between 1995 and 2000.

The large majority of the money was invested in Palestinian assets at home and abroad, Nashashibi said. A Palestinian Investment Fund was established to manage those assets and privatize them, he added.

But the IMF official did not rule out the possibility of the remaining funds being misused, saying he believes an audit of the remaining funds will be conducted later.

"In any system you can always have a possibility of misuse of funds," Nashashibi said. "But what we're trying to do is have a level of disclosure and transparency so that future or present misuse does not happen."

In a special annual issue of Forbes Magazine, Arafat was reported to control $300 million, making him among one of the richest in its category of "Kings, Queens and Despots.