Palestinians hope to launch e-currency in five years

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) hardware wallet and coins are seen in an illustration photo taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, in this May 27, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 May 2017
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Palestinians hope to launch e-currency in five years

NICOSIA: Palestinian officials are planning for the territory to have its own digital-only currency within five years, a move designed to safeguard against potential Israeli interference, the head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) told Reuters.
Palestinians have no currency of their own and use the euro, US dollar, Israeli shekel and Jordanian dinar in their daily lives. But with limited control over money supply and ultimately, inflation, authorities are mulling a bitcoin-style solution, Azzam Shawwa said.
“That is something we would like to see,” Shawwa said. “It will be called the Palestinian pound.”
Bitcoin is a global digital currency and payment system.
Shawwa spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of the annual meeting in Cyprus of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD said during the meeting it would start investing in the West Bank and Gaza via donations.
The PMA says on its website that it aimed to become a “full-fledged and modern central bank” for an independent Palestine.
But it is unclear how the planned e-pound would skirt the 1994 Paris Protocol agreement, which gave the PMA the functions of a central bank but without the ability to issue currency. The protocol recommended the use of the shekel and gave Israel an effective veto over a Palestinian currency.
There are practical reasons why Palestinians might consider a digital currency. The authority has no money-printing facilities of its own so all cash and coins currently come in from elsewhere.
“If we print currency, to get it into the country you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle,” Shawwa said. “So that is why we do not want to go into it.”


Abraaj founder’s extradition hearing adjourned

Updated 18 April 2019
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Abraaj founder’s extradition hearing adjourned

  • The US alleges that Arif Naqvi and his firm raised money for the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, collecting more than $100 million over three years from US-based charities and investors
  • According to the SEC’s complaint, Naqvi misappropriated money from the health fund and commingled the assets with corporate funds of Abraaj Investment Management

LONDON: A case in a London court to extradite Arif Naqvi, the founder of collapsed private equity firm Abraaj, to the US on fraud charges was adjourned until April 26, a court official said on Thursday.
The official said that a former managing partner of Dubai-based Abraaj, Sev Vettivetpillai, had also been arrested and was facing a US extradition request linked to the same charges.
While at Abraaj, Vettivetpillai was head of impact investing in a role that oversaw the firm’s troubled health care fund. Abraaj’s executives are facing US charges that they defrauded investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Naqvi and his firm raised money for the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, collecting more than $100 million over three years from US-based charities and other US investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Naqvi misappropriated money from the health fund and commingled the assets with corporate funds of Abraaj Investment Management and its parent company, and used it for purposes unrelated to the health fund.
Naqvi pleaded innocent last week in a statement released through a PR firm.
He was arrested in the UK earlier this month, while managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood was arrested at a New York hotel, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Griswold told a Manhattan federal court on April 11.