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Abbas son says to sue US magazine over wealth claims

June 12, 2012 10:20 A.M. (Updated: June 13, 2012 1:37 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- 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."

The magazine based the article on Reuters reports from 2009, which used US government documents to show that firms owned by Yasser and Tariq Abbas had won US aid contracts.

It also referenced a 2009 report in the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post which quoted Yasser Abbas saying one of his companies, Falcon Tobacco, had a monopoly over the marketing of US-made cigarettes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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 Foreign Policy, Yasser Abbas chairs the Falcon Holding Group, a conglomerate with engineering, telecommunications, and investment arms, as well as tobacco. In 2009 Abbas said the company's revenues amounted to $35 million a year, according to The Jerusalem Post.

He is also managing director of First Option Project Construction Management and chair of Al-Mashreq Insurance Company, Foreign Policy said.

Yasser's brother Tariq Abbas is managing director of Sky Advertising company, and vice chairman of the Arab Palestinian Shopping Center Company, the report added.

Yasser Abbas told Ma'an: "I pay taxes to the PA just as others. I started my business activities years before my father became president of Palestine. I worked hard and witnessed ups and downs."

He slammed the Foreign Policy report as "intentional and outrageous ambiguity meant to mix politics and my private life."

Abbas said he was taking legal advice to prepare a suit against the US magazine. He noted "similar defamation campaigns," in which he won a legal case against Israel’s Channel 10 in 2010, and said another case against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel was pending verdict.
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