The son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas holds $1 million worth of shares in a Palestinian investment company with strong ties to the PA, Haaretz reported Thursday night.
The revelation came from documents obtained from the “Panama Papers” data leak, which has provided details on the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars.
According to Haaretz, the Arab Palestinian Investment Company (APIC), launched in 1995, is today a major financial player in the Palestinian economy, with involvement in the food, medical and automobile industries as well as public relations and a host of shopping centers.
The PA does not directly hold shares in APIC, but the Palestinian Investment Fund, with close ties to the PA chairman, holds 18 percent of its stocks. APIC’s board of directors has historically featured members with close ties to the head of the PA — previously Yasser Arafat and now Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas’s son Tareq was appointed to the board in 2011, a fact that was public knowledge. However, his personal investment in the company — $982,000 as of September 2015 — had not been known.
The leak of 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca has caused scandals throughout the world. These have so far brought down the leader of Iceland and raised questions about the dealings of the presidents of Argentina and Ukraine, senior Chinese politicians, famous actors, athletes and the circle of friends of Russian Vladimir Putin, who some allege has profited indirectly from such accounts. On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged he profited from his father’s investments in an offshore tax haven before being elected.
Israel has launched a probe into companies and individuals exposed by the leak to have holdings in offshore accounts.
The Israel Tax Authority announced Monday that it had opened an investigation after some 600 Israeli companies and 850 Israeli shareholders were listed in documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca.
Among the Israeli names found in the leaked documents are those of top attorney Dov Weisglass, former bureau chief of the late prime minister Ariel Sharon; Jacob Engel, a businessman active in the African mining industry; and Idan Ofer, a member of one of Israel’s wealthiest families, according to Haaretz.
A branch of Bank Leumi — Israel’s second-largest bank — in the Channel Islands, which provides a tax shelter to its customers, is also mentioned in the leak.
Appearing in the documents does not necessarily imply wrongdoing, but in some cases proves offshore holdings and use of tax havens.
AP and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.