The Phosphate Predicament: What Is There to Do?!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 3 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The Phosphate Company is nothing short of a bad omen to Jordanians. The violations and trespassed committed, confirmed by the court of law are unforgettable.

Numerous rulings have been sentenced against the former Chairman of the Company’s board of directors, Walid Kurdi.

Altogether, Kurdi received several prison sentences, in addition to other rulings entailing the payment of JOD300 million worth in fines and compensation.

Since then, the company has been suffering major losses, year after another, and for an array of reasons.

Some of those reasons have to do with declining revenues on one hand, due to receding crude prices worldwide, and others which have to do with previously signed contracts and trade agreements.

One after the other, consecutive governments have tried to put the case to rest, to no avail. The case is still open, and none of the rulings have been enforced.

Among other possibilities, this says a lot about the government; that they have done nothing to see to the enforcement of the law.

Other than the fact that previous government have tried to bring Kurdi to justice but failed, nothing else was done about it.

Notably, the former Chairman carries the British nationality. Given he was sentenced in absentia, the rulings against him are internationally unacknowledged, officials have stated over and over again.

The last of these attempts to extradite Kurdi to justice in Jordan outdate Mulqi’s government back to Dr Abdullah Nsoor’s time as Prime Minister.

The former premier, along with members of the Cabinet, put together a high ranking governmental committee to review the Company’s current situation, in collaboration with legal and financial experts to uncover the truth of what happened, and what may still be happening; also to no viable end.

Needless to say, Dr Hani Mulqi’s government did not stop either. But all the government’s efforts were fruitless.

This is what it means to say that the government has done nothing about it.

Expectedly, the outcomes of all the government’s investigations point to there being nothing they could do about Kurdi.

This, however, does not necessarily mean that nothing could be done in regards to the Company’s contracts, though, to prevent or at least mitigate further losses.

The information at hand confirms that settlement with Kurdi is out of the question, because he doesn’t want to.

While at it, it seems no new cases can be filed against him, especially since these contracts and agreements do not entail any legal violations.

In the absence of clear and articulate illegalities, officials say, there is nothing to prosecute the man for, legally speaking.

Back to the settlement offer and its viability as an option, given it is an integral requirement for the closure of the cases against him.

Kurdi received two incarceration sentences, 22 and 15 years, in addition to exactly JOD284 million in fines and compensation, approximately USD400 million.

Just a reminder; He was found guilty of corruption as Chairman of the Phosphate Company.

Notwithstanding, he was found guilty other charges related to corruption, also as Chairman of the Company.

Four years ago, he was also found guilty in absentia of the manipulation of sold contracts and land shipping.

Those too landed him two additional 22.5 and 15 year sentences to imprisonment and hard labour, as well as fines worth JOD253 million and JOD31 million.

In his absence, the court ruled to seize the equivalent, in total, of his fixed and current assets, wherever they may be.

That was the last of it.

Ever since the sentences came out, the government has not brought up the Phosphate case; they left the people guessing and spreading rumours.

It is time the government grows some and addresses citizens openly on this; inform them of all its details, in order to finally put this topic to rest and begin addressing the drainage of one of Jordan’s most crucial and integral national resource.

Fact is, the government is not the primary stakeholder in the Phosphate case; society is. The citizens who believe that their rights have been taken from them and waived, reinforcing the public perception that the government either doesn’t care about the case or is too scared to go anywhere near it!

This needs to be addressed and countered.

Years upon years now, and the Phosphate Company is still losing money; JOD90 million in 2016 and JOD15 million in the three months of this current year.

It is time fundamental solutions be devised to carry the Company through this peril to a new era of profit making. And should the company have a clue as to how they plan to do so, a vision, they should convey it to the people.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.