France Probes Arafat's Wife for Money-Laundering

French prosecutors have launched a money-laundering probe into the alleged transfers of millions of dollars to accounts held by the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The Bank of France (search) approached the Paris prosecutor's office after discovering that nearly $1.27 million were allegedly being transferred each month from Switzerland to Suha Arafat's (search) accounts in Paris, where she lives, the officials said.

The prosecutor's office opened a preliminary money-laundering investigation in October, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The probe was first reported by a weekly satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchainé, on Wednesday.

The officials said that Tracfin (search), an organization that collates information about money laundering, confirmed the Bank of France's suspicions about the alleged transfers.

Efforts to contact Mrs. Arafat were unsuccessful. Her name is not listed in the Paris telephone directory.

A lawyer who has represented Mrs. Arafat in the past said he has not been approached by her about the probe.

The Palestinian Authority's office in Paris said it would pass on a request for comment to Mrs. Arafat's staff. But it would not give out a telephone number for her office.

A Bank of France spokeswoman had no immediate comment.