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PA's partner in the Jericho casino is Sharon's - Haaretz, Israel

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  • Zafar Khan
    PA s partner in the Jericho casino is Sharon s buddy, new report finds By Arnon Regular
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2003
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      PA's partner in the Jericho casino is Sharon's
      buddy, new report finds
      By Arnon Regular


      Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad and the
      rating company Standard & Poor's have traced $658
      million worth of the Palestinian Authority's assets
      and funds, according to a preliminary report issued

      Among the more interesting details are the PA's part
      in the Oasis casino in Jericho. The PA owns 23.08
      percent of CAP, the company that owns the Jericho
      Casino. The Oasis is also partly owned by Jewish
      Austrian businessman Martin Schlaf - a close friend of
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who also sits on the
      board of directors.

      According to the report, CAP is registered in
      Lichtenstein and most of its owners are not known.
      Among its registered owners is an Austrian casino
      company, in which Schlaf is prominently involved.
      Schlaf last visited Sharon about two weeks ago in
      Hashikmim farm. The Prime Minister's Office director
      general, Dov Weisglass, represented CAP in Israel
      before entering his present office and his former law
      office still handles the company's business.

      The Austrian Casino company received, according to the
      report, a franchise to operate the Jericho casino
      until 2028, with a 10-year tax exemption from the day
      it opened, and exclusive rights to operate other
      casinos in PA territories.

      The report was issued by the Palestinian Investment
      Fund (PIF), the central body set up last August to
      concentrate and manage all the PA's assets and
      properties as part of the economic reforms in the PA.
      These funds and assets were managed during the Oslo
      agreements exclusively and secretly by Mohammed Rashid
      and his men. The PIF appointed Fayyad finance
      minister, Rashid as PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's
      representative and five other prominent private
      Palestinian businessmen, to take over and manage the
      assets in an orderly, open fashion.

      The report, albeit partial, gives the Palestinian
      public for the first time some idea of the extent of
      funds run by Rashid and the economic system that the
      PA set up in the territories and abroad. In many
      cases, the information regarding the funds or assets
      is not complete and it is not yet clear which senior
      PA officials are managing them or own them.

      The report indicates so far that there are 11 central
      PA investments in Palestinian companies totaling
      $372.9 million in local investments, like the
      Palestinian Telephone Company and the Palestinian
      Cellular Company. There are also investments in the
      Arab world, in cellular companies in Algiers, Tunis
      and Jordan, a Canadian drug company and others.

      Another prominent company mentioned in the report is a
      Palestinian cement company, which according to the
      report is worth about $45 million and is owned
      entirely by the PA.

      The company constitutes a monopoly in cement marketing
      and is estimated to hold 60 to 70 percent of the
      cement market. Its main suppliers are the Israeli
      Nesher company and the Jordanian cement company. The
      company's annual income is estimated at NIS 115

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