As confusion over Mr. Arafat's condition grew, a Palestinian legislator last night called for his financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, who controls a multi-billion dollar network of Palestine Liberation Organisation accounts, to be investigated.
Over the past 40 years, Mr Arafat's PLO has built up a global empire of investments, worth an estimated $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion. (£2.3-£3.5 billion). Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority, which administers the territories, is virtually bankrupt.
Abdul Jawwad Saleh, a leading independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, wants Mr Rashid to be questioned at the organisation's Ramallah headquarters. His demand reflects concern that very few people will know the whereabouts of more than £2 billion of PLO funds if Mr Arafat dies. Mr Rashid left Ramallah some months ago, and is currently in Paris. Hassan Khreishe, another legislative council member, said Mr Rashid would be held to account. "We will follow him, don't worry," he said.
Mr Saleh is also calling for Mr Arafat's wife, Suha, who is said to be a business partner of Mr Rashid, to be questioned. "Mr Arafat's situation has presented a chance for us to question Mohammed Rashid," he said. "He knows better than anyone else the whereabouts of all the money, all the secret accounts. This is the people's money."
A confidential report last month by the Palestinian finance ministry shows that the Palestinian Authority is running a deficit of about £73 million a month.
Last year, the International Monetary Fund said Mr Arafat had diverted $1 billion or more of Palestinian Authority funds from 1995 to 2000.
A Palestinian lawyer who has investigated PLO corruption, and who wished to remain anonymous, said he knew of three or four Arafat loyalists who held secret bank accounts. "He paid a lot of this money to buy loyalty, squandering millions of dollars," he said. "The corruption was huge. The PLO had monopolies on cement, petrol, construction, taxes and cigarettes. It has investments everywhere. Nobody knows what has happened to all these assets."
And so the hunt begins.
(Tipped off by Highland Warriors)