Suspect admits guilt in Jordan scam

A key suspect in a multimillion dollar loan scandal has pleaded guilty to charges, including fraud, in a case that has rocked Jordan and landed its former spy chief in jail.

    Businessman Shamayleh says he acted on instructions

    Appearing before Jordan's State Security Court on Thursday, businessman Majed Shamayleh admitted using forged documents to illegally secure a total of 350 million dinars ($493 million) in bank loans between 1994 and 2002.

     

    Shamayleh, accused of fraud and forgery, said he acted on the instructions of the then General Intelligence Department  head Samih Batikhi, once Jordan's most feared security official and now serving a four-year jail term for fraud, forgery and

    misuse of public funds.

      

    Questions

     

    The case has raised questions about the extent of corruption at the heart of Jordan's political establishment.

       

    Shamayleh voluntarily returned to Jordan last year from Australia, where he had lived as a fugitive for several months.

       

    "He (Shamayleh) admitted to the charges," a judicial source said on Saturday. "He confessed that he and Samih Batikhi arranged the whole affair, using forged documents and forged stamps to secure the loans."

        

    Defence lawyer Hassan Abu Orabi al-Adwan confirmed that Shamayleh had pleaded guilty but said his client had been conned by Batikhi.

       

    "He told the court that everything was planned and arranged by Batikhi and that he acted on his instructions," Adwan said.

     

    "He confessed that he and Samih Batikhi arranged the whole affair, using forged documents and forged stamps to secure the loans"

    Judicial source

    He said Batikhi told Shamayleh the money was needed to finance secret security operations in the country and that it would be paid back once promised foreign aid arrived.

       

    "He was conned. He was told to keep the whole thing a secret. What do you expect a young man to do when he is asked by the head of the intelligence service to do something, especially if it was made to look as a service to one's country?"

       

    Shamayleh faces a sentence of up to three years in jail on at least one of the five charges, but his confession could help him get a more lenient sentence.

       

    The court adjourned until Sunday.  Shamayleh's younger brother Ayman, another suspect in the case, pleaded not guilty on two counts.

       

    Two other suspects involved in the case remain at large. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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