Rafiq Al-Natsheh, head of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, attends an interview with Reuters in the West Bank city of Ramallah February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
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PA corruption chief claws back $70M, more to recoupThe head of the Palestinian anti-corruption body says he has clawed back $70 million in five years but his investigators have failed to uncover evidence to justify allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars in government funds have gone missing. Rafiq al-Natsheh, chairman of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, said "tens of millions of dollars" needed to be tracked down and that one of the biggest challenges facing his team was getting funds back that had disappeared abroad.After years of talk of vast sums going astray – the attorney general of the Palestinian Authority announced in February 2006 that he was investigating 50 cases of embezzlement from the authority's budget totaling $700 million – President Mahmoud Abbas is under pressure from donors to show he is taking action.When asked for details, Natsheh said they provided information on just 10 cases, none of which checked out."We got $40 million back from Egypt and $20 million from Iraq," he said, describing deals in which Palestinian officials used state funds to do business abroad and pocketed the proceeds, rather than transferring them to the PA budget.He mentions a conviction handed down by the corruption court against an adviser to former President Yasser Arafat, but the $34 million missing has not yet been recovered.
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