Palestinian Finance Minister To Face Trial Over Corruption Charges
Abu Libdeh, who has a Ph.D. from Cornell University, was referred to court by the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission. One of Abu Libdeh’s aides, Sami Ramlawi, the former Finance Ministry director-general, was also indicted on charges of corruption.
Abu Libdeh is accused of “misuse of credit, fraud and manipulation in the financial market.” Abu Libdeh used to head the Palestinian Capital Market Authority, which oversees the local stock market.
In November, when the first reports regarding the charges emerged, Abu Libdeh said that he was being targeted for political reasons:
“I tried to be the loyal soldier in the battle to defend our cause and spent time behind bars and under house arrest. But some don’t want to see success and can’t live with it. I’m fed up with ongoing attempts to defame me and my record.”
It is important to note that Abu Libdeh is not the first Palestinian official to face corruption charges recently. In August, the Minister of Agriculture Ismail Daiq stepped down from his duties after facing charges of corruption. Daiq is yet to stand trial.
In mid-December, Jonathan Schanzer covered the corruption probes in his piece The End of Fayyadism:
In the Palestinian Authority, corruption probes aren’t launched unless the president wants them launched. In this case, Abbas has engineered these latest scandals to discredit Fayyad and cast doubt on the prime minister’s ability to deliver on his celebrated mandate of countering corruption. After all, the corruption goes to the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority, and the officials in question were appointed by Fayyad himself.
While the merits of these cases are yet to be determined, they are not designed to rid Palestine of corruption. Rather, by ousting ministers and hobbling Fayyad, Abbas creates an opportunity to replace them with figures more to his liking.
Abbas makes the major decisions impacting Palestinians out of his sprawling Muqata compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Fayyad, meanwhile, works with a skeleton crew in a modest office nearby. According to officials who work with them, the two figureheads of the Palestinians are barely on speaking terms. Fayyad has become a glorified accountant, leveraging his strong relationship with international donors to collect checks that ensure his government can continue to pay salaries — while Abbas pursues a provocative foreign policy that endangers those sources of funding.