Loai Deeb and a $534,000 villa in Amman

GNRD founder Loai Deeb: property purchases raise new questions

Loai Deeb, founder-president of the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), asked the deputy head of his Jordan office to find out about Jordanian money-laundering laws and whether they are enforced or not, the Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports.

GNRD, one of the world's strangest human rights organisations, is based in Norway but appears to receive most of its funds via the United Arab Emirates. Last May, Norwegian police raided its offices in Stavanger, along with Deeb's home, as part of a $13 million money-laundering investigation.

Before founding GNRD in 2008, Deeb – a Norwegian citizen of Palestinian origin – earned a living distributing newspapers and as an airport security guard, according to media reports. In 2007, he also started running a fake university from his home but it closed three years later under threat of prosecution. Deeb himself claims to have a doctorate in international law but has given conflicting accounts of where he obtained the degree.

In 2013, Deeb's personal income – which had been around $25,000 a year until 2012 – suddenly leapt to $600,000, raising questions about where the money was coming from.

Deeb is reported to have set up several new companies in Norway recently (some of which include other GNRD figures on their boards) and has also been acquiring property.

According to Stavanger Aftenblad, he bought two properties in Norway last year for a total of 12.3 million kroner ($1.6 million) and paid for them in full without taking out a loan. But it now appears Deeb's property purchases were not confined to Norway. He has also bought houses in Cairo and a villa in the Jordanian capital, Amman, according to NRK.

Deeb bought the Jordanian villa, covering 738 square meters, for 380,000 dinars ($534,000) and, again, he paid the full amount without taking out a loan, NRK says.

NRK says it was shown the villa by Naema Onizat, the former deputy chief of GNRD's Amman office who was asked by Deeb to enquire about Jordanian money-laundering laws and their enforcement. Onizat told NRK he left GNRD after becoming suspicious about Deeb's activities.

Asked by NRK about the property purchases, Deeb's lawyer, Kjell Brygfjeld, declined to comment. He told the broadcaster: "We will return to all questions when we become aware of the factual basis for the charges against Deeb."

Posted by Brian Whitaker
Friday, 17 July 2015