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 ministerâ€™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.