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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 18:40 GMT
Mrs Arafat's bank accounts probed
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat with wife Suha in 1995
Suha, who married the Palestinian leader in 1992, lives in Paris
French prosecutors are looking into alleged multi-million dollar transfers into the bank accounts of the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Officials have confirmed reports of an inquiry into the financial transactions of Paris-based Suha Arafat.

They acted after the Bank of France alerted them to transfers of nine million euros ($11.5m) from Switzerland to two of Mrs Arafat's accounts.

Prosecutors say the investigation is at a preliminary stage.

It was launched by the Paris public prosecutor last October after the Bank of France reported that nearly $1.27m was being transferred on a regular basis from Switzerland to Mrs Arafat's accounts in Paris.

Officials said the alleged transfers were also confirmed by a government anti-money laundering body.

The prosecutor's office said it was checking transfers made between July 2002 and July 2003 into Mrs Arafat's accounts at Arab Bank and French bank BNP.

Satirical magazine

The investigation only came to light this week in the satirical French weekly Canard Enchaine.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the probe was preliminary to determine whether there was sufficient grounds to take investigations further.

The Palestinian leader has in the past rejected allegations of financial corruption with the Palestinian Authority.

Mrs Arafat could not be contacted for comment. According to the Associated Press news agency, a lawyer who has represented Mrs Arafat in the past said he had not been approached by her about the probe.

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