Prominent Jordanians Detained On Corruption Charges

My eyes expanded ten-fold early this morning upon reading this late-breaking news that four individuals have been detained on corruption charges related to the very controversial Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company. Normally this kind of news might fly under the radar with the expectation that those detained will likely be low-level employees, but upon reading the names, you’re forced to pause and make sure you read that right. Former minister, Adel Qudah, former JPRC director general Ahmad Rifai, the prime minister’s economic adviser, Mohammad Rawashdeh, and business tycoon Khaled Shahin. All big names, especially the latter, whom it seems was taken straight to prison from a hospital bed soon after an operation.

I don’t ever recall any one on this level being detained on suspicion of corruption in Jordan’s recent history – at least not this publicly. Without a doubt, the view from the street suggests that this is the first dose of credibility for the Rifai government’s push on anti-corruption and pro-ethics “movement” that has traditionally been all-talk and little action.

Obviously, the real test lies in what happens next. Most of them will post bail no doubt (they can afford to buy the prison itself 100 times over), but whether this unfolds in to an actual trial, it will be a sight to see. The Jordanian equivalent of putting Al Capone on trial.

But as someone who is old enough to know better, I wouldn’t hold my breath just yet.

39 thoughts on “Prominent Jordanians Detained On Corruption Charges

  1. ” Without a doubt, the view from the street suggests that this is the first dose of credibility for the Rifai government’s push on anti-corruption and pro-ethics “movement” that has traditionally been all-talk and little action.”
    When this Dude orders his father arrest first, then and maybe then, I will give him the benefit of the doubt..

  2. Great first step.. I am beginning to feel proud of being Jordanian. Maybe my passport will carry more significance and the Jordanian story will resemble that of Singapore soon- a country out of shambles and into the real international system.

  3. What a joke. Our politicians and our leaders are blatantly corrupt and self serving. A few poor bastards get hung out to dry, but the real bastards who’ve been sucking the country dry for decades get away time and time again. Let’s not forget who the current prime minister’s father is!!!

  4. Unfortunately, it is only a show to make you believe that the new dude will be able to do something about corruption ,it’s an old joke that no body in his or her mind thinks that this dude is for real.

  5. “it’s an old joke that no body in his or her mind thinks that this dude is for real.”

    my cynical side agrees with you. the optimist in me agrees with kinzi’s labeling this as a step. no matter how small or insignificant in the context that is jordan.

    like all things, time will tell which side comes out on top.

  6. So Dubai capital wanted in on the refinery deal,but the deal somehow ended in the hands of infra mena.Am I getting the story right? hmmmm..Some investigative journalism is needed.Follow the money,and those moving the money.

  7. Although, I was not following the details of the deal on strategic partner for the refinery or the corruption charges, I am a bit unhappy on the way the judicial system in Jordan operates. I am not sure of the benefits of jailing the suspects immediately after they are charged. In developed countries, the normal procedure is to arraign them with the presence of their lawyers and then they released on bonds. Usually suspects that are dangerous nature are detained. There is no fear that the four suspects will leave the country given the tight control on departure. These people should be provided with the dignity along with their civil rights throughout the investigation. Once they are proven guilty, they can serve the time.

    By the way, few years ago, the president of Al Baqaa University was jailed for a couple of weeks on corruption charges to find out later that the judge dismissed the case and found the prosecutors charges unfounded. The president of the university went back to his post and he is still holding the post until today.

    The famous say “suspects innocent until proven guilty” should apply in this case.

  8. I like the note, hint and suggestion of Muhannad above. I hope that this is not “a pick and choose” case to calm the public, settle differences and score some points to restore the credibility of the government. Let us see other cases…soon

  9. The son of Zaid Rifa’y charges against corruption. Surreal, but true.
    They tried whispering to the PM: “A touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall”.

  10. Yay, I’m even more excited and optimistic than the time they got Smih Al Bateekhi.
    Wow, 7 years have passed. And you totally can feel the difference! Things are moving in the right direction indeed since 7 years

    يا أبو الشباب، إحنا مش سلبيين، بس بدك المزبوط؟ انتبه لدروسك و شغلك و سيبك من هلكلام الفاظي و خليك في حالك و ماشي ويارب الستر
    Look,we simply lost faith, maybe this Rifai dude is serious this time and actually wants to do some sh.it since he got all the riches already, but considering the past experiences: Meh!
    Corruption is just a little part of the big picture. Fix the schools and universities, start building an economy.

    مجد الشمايلة بسلم عليك و بقلك معالك عشر ليرات سلفة؟

    Look, after one year and 8 months, I’m deciding to move business and resettle in Dubai, why? Because I was naive thinking that I could make it here and not having the right connections that could get me past the customs guys whose only job is to destroy your buisness and hold your materials for ages for no reasons, then asking you to destroy it, while you are running from one governmental building to another.

    You know what? You are a gifted person, could you shed a light on the JOR customs? I think they are the ones ruining Jor and killing most of the startups. Most old timers and big guys are well connected and have no problems, usually they are government dudes or partners with big shots in the government.

    Next time you think that things are moving and we are open for buisness, with no red tape and hundreds of grants from JUMP,DIP and such and you decide to move in, please double think. If your dad owns a big business and well connected, then it is cool, otherwise, consider places where laws are save and procedures are clear and applies to all.

  11. @Mohanned: I’ve heard that story, and I’ve also heard that Rifai and Shaheen have blood between them from the former’s Royal Court days, but I have no evidence of it, and no one I know does either – so i don’t what kind of creedence to lend to such stories…but everything is questionable.

    @Free Jordanian: “Nas , lets make a bet right now…” I can’t speculate on what will happen with this case, or what the motivation behind it is. like i said in my initial post, i’m not holding my breath. irregardless, something on this magnitude is something we haven’t seen for a long time.

    @Rich Brat: “You are a gifted person, could you shed a light on the JOR customs? I think they are the ones ruining Jor and killing most of the startups” I think you yourself seem gifted enough to articulate your own story. submit it 7iber.com for publishing!

    as for everything else you said. i live in this country and operate in this country, thus, by default, i am aware of its realities, many of which are reflected in this blog. but thanks for the reminder 🙂

  12. could somebody explain
    -who are the companies that applied for the bid?
    -which company bribed those arrested?
    -the company that got the contract?

  13. i wouldnt hold my breath as u said, mind u qudah-rawashdeh and rifa3i are nobodies (tribal influence/military position like battikhi)…

  14. I’d love to submit an article , but with the current mood it’s a very difficult task, where the only thing that keeps you going is the smile of a 2 years old girl.
    You are the professional journalist, I like your Jordan business articles, maybe for a change we’ll see an article about Jordanians who have made it, aside from the usual IT crew and the NGO backed initiative which are abandoned down the road. Maybe there are not much, but some hope will be good.

    Is it the coward’s way out to leave and start over elsewhere in order to provide for your beloved ones and provide for your aging parents who don’t have medical insurance and will not settle for the Basheer hospital?

    A word of advice for JOR expats who are thinking of resettling: Weight your options and know what you want! Are you moving because you are home sick or thinking about your elderly? Or you are leaving because you have lost your job? Either ways, don’t “just” come back and hope for the best, saying that hard work will pay off eventually, it should, but you’ll be loosing a lot along the way, be it your career,income, position, life quality, etc… “From the end – Mena Al Akhir” , prepare very well for your comeback (1 year ahead),don’t believe unless you see and experience, don’t listen to your uncle’s or cousins assurances, don’t base any judgments on the numerous spam articles and websites and reports coming out of Jordan because in most cases they are half baked initiatives,studies, in most cases they are tailored for an inner circle, usually characterized by big businessmen and their entourage of government and ex-government guys.
    Now even if you are well connected, and daddy got your back, plan carefully of what you are offering to the market. Introducing a high end product with European or American standards is not the smartest idea since you’ll be selling to few people,companies.

    Prepare to change your attitude about yourself. To make it, you need to be more of a vegetable seller at a flea market. Baya khudra. Learn the local jargon (ala rasee, min al akhir, shu bedak ana jahiz (used when government guys is basically saying he is going to stop whatever you came with for no reason and hence you are telling him, how could we fix this magically, never used it myself, but it seems working for others. Anyways, it is not your fault that the government educate and employee for doing nothing other than being born with the approved criteria.

    Look, basically, don’t loose faith or patience easily in Jordan, keep trying you’ll finally make it, but how or how big is not usually in your hands. Never loose faith or your compusre and think tomorrow will be a better day. Sorry for abusing your webpage, I feel better…….are you going to charge me now? It’s ok, a small amount compared to how much already gone 🙂

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  16. Rich Brat, I totally agree with you. I myself returned to Jordan after spending 8 years in the US, in a naive and unrealistic attempt to “make a difference”. 3 years later I gave up on Jordan, and am now still in the MENA region. I would love to go back to the US, but the current economic climate is not too encouraging. But I digress…
    Jordan, simply put, sucks. It is all a massive PR campaign that is intent on making you see roses when the truth is something more brown more insulting, from an olfactory point of view. Every practical idea and initiative end up being raped by jealous self-serving sycophants, or end up mutating into something so completely unwieldy that it falls on its face before it even begins. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen projects that supposedly should be good, but end up being crushed by the weight of the government’s as well as their own bureaucracy.
    If you can, then leave.

  17. NIDAL BAHGAT:
    If anyone should write an article and submit to 7iber it’s you!
    Could not say it any better “It is all a massive PR campaign that is intent on making you see roses when the truth is something more brown more insulting, from an olfactory point of view. Every practical idea and initiative end up being raped by jealous self-serving sycophants, or end up mutating into something so completely unwieldy that it falls on its face before it even begins.”

    Nidal, the question is: How could we change things? Speak hypothetically, because at the end of the day, you have to look after yourself to provide for those around you. I think the change would only come when government officials and low key employees are not hired based on their last name.

    Jordan is falling behind in most sectors, higher education and schools are a joke, medical services are ok, but not leading anymore, IT is plagued by hundreds of the so called “entrepreneurs” who end up in a dead beat jobs or hammered with unpaid loans. The reason of all this is the government’s low key employees and mid management, these are the ones wrecking Jordan.

    Nasim, come one dude, put up a post asking people to submit their stories, for those who have made it on their own (good luck finding any) and those who sworn never to come back , should be an interesting article at JO Business

  18. whats up with you guys, bureaucracy and government as a whole only represents 10% of the problem imo.
    this is purely economic problem.

    im not defending anybody but its unfair to put the entire blame on the government. blame capitalism.
    i still cant understand what exactly you guys are unable to do?

    “Jordan is falling behind in most sectors, higher education and schools are a joke, medical services are ok, but not leading anymore, IT is plagued by hundreds of the so called “entrepreneurs” who end up in a dead beat jobs or hammered with unpaid loans. The reason of all this is the government’s low key employees and mid management, these are the ones wrecking Jordan. ”

    you are right about jordans position in those stuff, but what does that have to do with low key employees and managment in the government. what did they do?

    i’ve read stuff like this many times but its always missing something: a real world example.

  19. “what does that have to do with low key employees and managment in the government. what did they do””i’ve read stuff like this many times but its always missing something: a real world example.”

    What they have done? Simply,nothing! That is the problem. They don’t know what they are supossed to do either, it not just that they are not interested in doing anything, they don’t have the ability to do so!

    Tero, look, just take a walk on foot, and I really mean on foot and walk around Amman, pay attention to the roads and curbs, imagine what person would accpet to sign off on such horrible quality and below standards workmanship and material quality?

    – The Zarqa-Amman train, the never ending dilemma
    – Food poising , Shawerma, school milk
    – Smelly,slimy, green water??
    – The case of the abandoned air traffic control tower
    – The sadistic customs personnel and their arbitrary and ambiguous fees
    – The lack of an efficient transportation network to the University of Jordan , making the Madina and Dakhlya circle, the Uni entrances unbearable at any moment during the week.
    – The chronic tribal clashes and fights at universities
    – The hundreds of trucks and coasters not being ticked or confiscated for their toxic emissions.

    Should I really continue? Tero, I have to only assume you are a governmental official not really knowing what is going on and you are living the dream, usually this dream consists of the beautiful cliches parroted by various officials and buisnessmen about how Jordan is the young, moderate,ambitious country , a dream full of amazing pictures the same as what you see in brochures and marketing material at JOR embassies around the world.

    You are right, it is not completely their fault. It is everybody’s, as these very same low key employees and officials are a product of their society. So it is not the goverments failt, it is more of the culture. Other countries got poorer resoucrs than us, yet they’ve done something, unlike us, we rely on luck, chances, magic and wasta by praying and hoping for conditional or unconditional grants and funds that keeps us afloat for the next year and then Befregha Allah.

    Tero, please visit Duabi , Tunis , and maybe Algeria, and see how things are supposed to be.

  20. “Tero, look, just take a walk on foot, and I really mean on foot and walk around Amman, pay attention to the roads and curbs, imagine what person would accpet to sign off on such horrible quality and below standards workmanship and material quality?”

    already said this, BLAME CAPITALISM. the government cant afford top quality road systems.

    as for the below, what do they have to do with the bottom line?

    “-The Zarqa-Amman train, the never ending dilemma”
    this is about money, the gov needs investors for the project because the gov obviously cant afford it.

    “- Food poising , Shawerma, school milk”
    agree on school milk. as for the shawarma fiasco, the resturants wanted to cut costs, but after this incident the gov went more strict. so guess what, the price of shawarma has gone up a little. do you see the irony here?

    “- Smelly,slimy, green water??”
    you mean the public tap water? i dont where do you live but the water here is fairly good.

    “- The case of the abandoned air traffic control tower”
    first time hear about it, when did that happen?

    “- The sadistic customs personnel and their arbitrary and ambiguous fees”
    you still dont get it, the economy is amazing and the government needs money :)))

    “- The chronic tribal clashes and fights at universities”
    that type of problem exist in jordan as a whole not just universities. if the economy improves the problem will disappear by itself. look at gulf countries, they x10 more tribal than we are, but they are busy shopping and travelling.

    “- The hundreds of trucks and coasters not being ticked or confiscated for their toxic emissions.”
    if the gov put serious regulations on them, they will go out of business. tough choice.

    “Should I really continue?”
    please continue, because the more you talk the more you prove that its connected to the state of the economy.

    “Other countries got poorer resoucrs than us, yet they’ve done something, unlike us, we rely on luck, chances, magic and wasta by praying and hoping for conditional or unconditional grants and funds that keeps us afloat for the next year and then Befregha Allah.

    Tero, please visit Duabi , Tunis , and maybe Algeria, and see how things are supposed to be.”

    nope, jordan is a special case. dubai was backed by debts, look at it now.
    Tunisia has oil and a large mining and agriculture and tourism sector plus it exists on the Mediterranean.
    Algeria same as Tunisia.

  21. Come on, are you an ex-spokesperson of the government and now a minister? If you are, your twitter page needs to be more updated BTW 🙂 , Khaled Irani keeps his well updated.

    Fair enough, the problem lies in the evil capitalistic system, but what are the parliament and the government doing about it? Nothnig..to be fair, they are jumping hopes from one place to another trying to score another grant or fund to support “FILL IN THE BLANK” initiative to empower ” FITB” in underdeveloped communities.
    Hey, if you are a governmental dude, how is that USAID fund for IT starts up looking? Any luck? Miss call me.

    Smelly,greenish-browish water: You don’t recall? The infamous summer which reminded any expat of double thinking before “drowning” in this $hit? 1998, minister resigns eventually?

    So customs guys are doing the nation a favor by having unexplained, inconsistent and unfair fees? I think it mostly have to do with their mood and how cute you look, if you are a chick and a (and I quote a custom officer) “Sarookh”…..

    TERO, seriously, are you serious or being sarcastic?

  22. you have no idea, if i was to talk freely i would end up in jail hahaa
    there are things that are more serious than the stuff you mentioned, if they are solved every small problem will disappear automatically.

    “Fair enough, the problem lies in the evil capitalistic system, but what are the parliament and the government doing about it? Nothnig..to be fair, they are jumping hopes from one place to another trying to score another grant or fund to support “FILL IN THE BLANK” initiative to empower ” FITB” in underdeveloped communities.
    Hey, if you are a governmental dude, how is that USAID fund for IT starts up looking? Any luck? Miss call me.”

    the country is hammered by debts, we borrow money from large banks and monetary funds like the world bank and we pay it back with interest.
    our taxes should mainly go to paying off our debts and stop spending money useless projects that have no returns, and useless governmental origanizations, among a dozen other things, thats mosly the reason why we have a large deficit, the gov raise taxes to pay it off.

    this will keep going on untill it goes bankrupt and theres no money left, unless we borrow more money, which brings us back to square one.
    if you want to complain about something serious this is one thing.

    as for IT, what exactly are IT start ups going to offer?, USAID researches everything they put their money in. they dont just throw money. btw USAID doesnt give cash for the gov to do projects, they know about the corruption etc..

  23. BLAME CAPITALISM

    Capitalism is not well represented in Jordan and the blame doesn’t really fall outside its borders, so I don’t think this is really valid.

    Let me give you an example of why we’re in such a bad shape. My friend told me the other day about the electrician that installed fixtures in his apartment. The electrician is actually a government employee (either el amn el 3am or el amaneh I forgot), who receives a JD380 salary a month, but only puts in half an hour of work every day and uses the rest to do this side job as an electrician. In a few years, he says he will be retired and will basically continue to receive his salary in retirement, but the only difference is that then he will no longer have to show up for an hour or so to that government “job.” He’ll be truly free to do what he is meant to do, being an electrician.

    The funniest part of the story is this: this guy is completely oblivious to the fact that he is part of the problem. He complains that he has to work as an electrician because the JD380 is not enough (“shoo asawi ya3ni?” he asks). He doesn’t realize that he’s getting JD380 for nothing.

    Are you still sure Capitalism is at work in Jordan Tero?

  24. i was talking from a economics point of view. not the electricians point of view.
    theres no one hour job in amn al 3am, it could be the amaneh.

    slashing jobs and putting people out of work wont make a big difference.
    we need to expand our exports. and find investors who invest in long term and manufacturing.

  25. i already said that they should stop spending money on useless organizations and projects, i thought the electrician was included in the context. its not just about the salaries of employees, its about the cost of building and maintaining the different organizations (water electricity etc..)

  26. Government bashing has long been a favourite Jordanian hobby.

    Its an easy game to play, just pick & choose from hundreds of horror stories and start moaning and complaining. You will find a crowd that will listen even applaud.

    Is the situation much different in other countries? I have visited over 50 countries in the world and heard similar complaints. Maybe not as often but quite similar.

    But can you see the other side of the story? Can you see that Amman is a much cleaner, quieter and interesting place to live? That Amman is currently building a new downtown that will be the envy of Solidere? That Aqaba has made great strides from the sleepy non-fishing town that it was? That Zarqa has a brand new city being built next to it which has already improved the congestion and pollution…etc. Should I go on??

    Take off your dark glasses, you will see better. Maybe YOU can add something positive to the dynamic movement that our country is going through.

    Salam

  27. Here’s an after thought….

    We have 12% unemployment (or 18% depending on who you choose to believe). We also have about 110,000 highschool graduates enetring the job market every year (of course the lucky ones that started attending univ in 2006 reappear today, so they cancel the freshmen going in today).

    Now, say you have some means and want to start a small business. A wood work shop making simple furniture in the industrial area of say Wadi El Sir with say 10 workers. You will need a 200m2 hangar and some tools and machines, wood as raw material, some working capital to tide you over until you get paid for your sales. The whole lot will cost you approx $300,000 (trust me I’ve done it).

    Simple math will tell you that THE COST OF A SINGLE JOB OPPORUNITY is approx $30,000. Multiply that into 110,000 new job applicants per year and you need fresh investments of over THREE BILLION DOLLARS, each and every year. That is to keep unemployment at the present levels!

    Can the Jordanian economy generate this amount of fresh capital, every year?

    Ask yourselves, what can YOU do to help?

    (or in the words of a wiser man “Ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country”)

    Thank you 🙂

  28. Fawaz, we love Jordan. It’s a great country to be in, despite the many ……
    I’ve said that the culture is to blame, because the goverment guys, small or big calibers are nothing but people of their society.
    Something radical has to change, starting with education.
    Amman is a clean city and developed, but Greater Amman is sinking into urban chaos due to rapid growth. Going around the city , especially at the main hubs (Dakhleya,Madina Circles) is horrible.

    The government plays a huge rule in the since that most laws,procedures are not clear or definite and are applied arbitrary, usually depending on the employee’s mood or other personal considerations.

    Lets put it this way: You can get things done, but only after you develop high blood pressure , be it from the endless trips to the same governmental institute (although info is posted on their website and you call in, only to find out all info are completely wrong or incomplete). Or the cute electrician, small contractors who leave you in the middle of the road and do a horrible job and rob you off.

    You never know the pain till you waste your time and money and fall in debt because you believed the spam/PR reports and the hundreds of “positive” energetic so cool people preaching on how you could make it in the land of opportunities. (Note that the same business is doing great elsewhere, in countries similar to JOrdan, Eco and mindsets.)

    If you got a nice offer abraod…..take it!

  29. Rich Brat,,

    if you find a nice offer abroad by all means take it. You may also consider leaving your Jordanian passport at the borders!

    I applaud patriotic citizens who are willing to work hard to tackle the problems. As for “deserters”, they are quite free to make their own choices. Personally I have no time for them.

  30. Fawaz, not you or anyone can ever vomit such insane and insulting comments.
    You have no right to say that. Your attitude is what have ruined it all. When someone criticize, you just vomit your sick comments.

    Just remember who left his high status and thought he could make it here, only to discover that it is not possible. Now you have two choices, stay and never pay off your endured debts, or try to fix it so you can provide for your kids.

    Get lost with your sickness and attitude. This is my country and passport “Khawa” annak. Fahem? Till you come in peace with yourself and realize this fact, you’ll just keep ruining it.

    What have you done to help? Judging from your sick comment, I say you’ve done a lot, negatevly.

  31. lets all put the patriotism drama aside. you should look for your interests first and then you can look to benefit others. because you wont be able to provide anything if you didnt take care of yourself first.

    @Rich
    you should understand how coming back to homeland to give benefits work.
    those who leave their high status should research their opportunities before they come back.
    you dont just leave your hard work and status that you built outside and just go back and sitting hoping for an opportunity.

  32. Tero 100% true.
    But sometimes parents/siblings love is more powerful than anything else. You know, the good old “Wagaf Ma Ahlu” mentality.There are things more valuable than money. I’m not a believer of the whole “i” or “me-first” culture. You just wish that when you get old and helpless you’ll find your kids around you and not abandoning you. Showing love and support is much more important than financial support or medical support.

Your Two Piasters: