Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Yasser Abbas To Sue Over Article Claiming He Owns A Monopoly

Jonathan Schanzer's article about the sons of Mahmoud Abbas, with the subtitle: Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father's system?, addresses the question of corruption within the Palestinian Authority, an issue that is gaining prominence in the wake of the battle between Mohammad Rashid and Mahmoud Abbas as chronicled by Challah Hu Akbar.

Schanzer writes about Mahmoud Abbas's son Yasser Abbas:
Yasser now owns Falcon Tobacco, which reportedly enjoys a monopoly on the sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the Palestinian territories.
According to the Toronto Star, Yasser also chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian corporate conglomerate that owns Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company (also called Falcon Electro Mechanical Contracting Company, or FEMC), an engineering interest that was established in 2000 and boasts offices in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank. This business success has come with a helping hand from Uncle Sam: According to a Reuters report, Abbas's company received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005 to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron.

According to Yasser's biography, other arms of Falcon Holding Group include Falcon Global Telecommunication Services Company and Falcon General Investment Company, companies about which less is known. Through the Falcon companies, Yasser boasted to an Emirati magazine in 2009 that the companies' revenues total some $35 million per year.
Schanzer's article came out on June 5.
By June 11, First Option Project Construction Management, one of the companies mentioned in the article, had removed its biography of Yasser Abbas. (Challah Hu Akbar has a cached copy of Yasser Abbas's biography from First Option)

Now, taking the battle into the open, Yasser Abbas says he will sue Foreign Policy for Jonathan Schnanzer's article about him:
Yasser Abbas, the eldest son of President Mahmoud Abbas, said Monday evening he was preparing a legal case against a US magazine that reported on his business interests.

The June 5 Foreign Policy report examined Yasser and his brother Tariq's leadership of a number of Palestinian companies in light of recent corruption allegations by Muhammad Rashid, former adviser to late President Yasser Arafat.

Rashid, who was convicted by a PA court of embezzlement last week, has threatened to reveal financial corruption within the current Palestinian leadership.

Yasser Abbas said the Foreign Policy report was "dependent on lies, because it did not make its own investigations, but instead depended on other sources, of which the main source seems entirely unreliable."

...Abbas responded: "I hereby challenge anyone to prove that I monopolize this trade, or half of it, or quarter or one tenth even. Many people work in this trade and I never owned any monopoly."
According to Yasser Abbas, this is not the first time he has sued against "defamation campaigns." He claims to have won in a lawsuit against Israel’s Channel 10 in 2010, and claims another case is pending against Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel.

After a quick search, the only Abbas lawsuit I could find against an Israeli channel was from 2008: Abbas Brothers Suing Israel's Channel 1:
Abbas' sons sue Channel 1 for reporting they own cellphone company

Two sons of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are suing Israel Broadcasting Authority's television Channel 1 over a news report which claimed they own a major portion of a Palestinian cellphone company.

Tariq and Yasser Abbas say the December report defamed them by claiming that their father pressured Israel to give them frequency channels to launch a new cellular network, and that they own shares in Palestinian cellphone operator Wataniyeh.
I didn't find anything about how the lawsuit was resolved, though in the article Channel 1 sticks to their story.

I suppose one could forgive Abbas for confusing the different lawsuits together, though no one could accuse Yasser Abbas of having a monopoly on lawsuits.

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