The bad loans crisis which has shaken the local banking and business communities deepened on 24 February when the Jordan Securities Commission announced that the government had frozen the assets of 55 companies pending investigation.
Some of Jordan's most prominent businessmen and political leaders have been implicated in the affair, which surrounds the dealings of Amman-based computer firm Global Business. Local banks are understood to face exposure of more than $80 million for extending commercial credit facilities to the firm, which was selling security equipment to the General Intelligence Department (GID). The state prosecutor has also frozen the assets of the former head of the security agency, Samih Batikhi, and more than 200 people are understood to have been questioned in connection with the case.
The head of Global Business, Majd Shamayleh, left the country in early February after one bank discovered irregularities in the company's accounts. Shamayleh allegedly falsified official documents to obtain bank loans. Following a meeting of the heads of the Jordanian banking community on 10 February, the Central Bank of Jordan confirmed that several local institutions had extended loans to the firm, but did not comment on the extent of the exposure.
The chairmen of the Export & Finance Bankand Jordan Gulf Bankhave stepped down pending the outcome of the case. The state prosecutor has imposed a ban on news coverage of the investigation (MEED 15:2:02).
King Abdullah has joined Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb in voicing support for the beleaguered GID. The security agency has upheld the principle of transparency, protecting public funds and pursuing corruption in all its types, he said on 21 February.
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