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