“A challenging amnesty” … the Syrian regime releases dozens of detainees

The US State Department has revealed in a report that the Assad family’s net worth varies between one billion and two billion dollars, while the fortunes of those close to him amount to billions of dollars.

The Foreign Ministry indicated in its report that these estimates may be inaccurate and do not reflect the net wealth of the Assad family, as the family’s assets are scattered and hidden in many accounts, real estate portfolios and foreign tax havens, and registered can be under pseudonyms or in the names of other individuals to hide ownership and evade penalties.

The report confirms that the Assad family operates a complex patronage system that includes shell companies to gain access to financial resources through seemingly legitimate non-profit entities and institutional structures, with the aim of extorting money earned from illegal economic activities, including smuggling and to wash the weapons. and drug trafficking.

The report details the estimates of property and economic activities of members of the Assad family, which includes Syrian President Bashar, his wife Asma and his relatives from his cousins, and notes that there are no details of the wealth owned by Bashar’s sons.

Bashar and Asma al-Assad

Bashar and Asma al-Assad

The US State Department report stated that, based on reports from NGOs and the media, Bashar and his wife, Asma al-Assad, have a major influence on Syria’s wealth, and that they are economic actors in the country. sponsor to launder money obtained from illegal activities, and transfer this money to the regime.

The U.S. Treasury has placed Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, on the sanctions list.

The report revealed that Asma al-Assad has established a network that exerts influence on the Syrian economy, not to mention her influence on the Economic Committee, which manages economic affairs in the country. In recent years, Asthma has expanded its influence in the non-profit and telecommunications sectors, and it controls the Sirian Trust for Development, which it established in 2001 to direct funding for initiatives in regime-controlled areas.

Asmaa took over the Al-Bustan Charitable Society from Rami Makhlouf, appointing officials close to him on the board of directors of the Syriatel Communications Company, and also founding the Emmatel Communications Company with a Syrian businessman.

Muhannad al-Dabbagh, Asma’s cousin, and her brother Firas al-Akhras have taken over the management of Takamol, which manages the smart card program used to distribute subsidized food in Syria.

The US State Department said in previous statements that the Al-Assad and Al-Akhras families had “accumulated their wealth at the expense of the Syrian people through their control of an extensive and illegal network of links in Europe, the Gulf and elsewhere. ”.

Maher Al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher

Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher

Maher al-Assad is the brother of Bashar al-Assad, and the commander of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian army, where he serves as the head of a sponsorship network involved in illegal activities.

Maher and his team have been approved by the US government, whose economic network benefits from business operations in the telecommunications, information technology, engineering, energy and tourism sectors.

The Foreign Ministry notes that there are reports revealing the Fourth Division’s involvement in drug smuggling operations in Syria, including the smuggling of Captagon and amphetamines, and that it is collecting money from cars passing through official and unofficial Syrian checkpoints.

Maher al-Assad has a close working relationship with businessman Muhammad Saber Hamsho, who runs businesses in the construction, communications, information technology, engineering and tourism sectors.

Maher has investments in the contracting, energy and information technology sectors through the Tulsa Investment Group, and he has close ties with the Katerji family, whose companies and militias operate oil wells in regime-controlled areas, and in the past the fuel trade. between the regime and ISIS.

Bushra Al-Assad

Bushra al-Assad, Bashar’s sister, and the widow of Assef Shawkat, a former head of Syrian Military Intelligence.

The U.S. State Department has included Bushra on the sanctions list, and her children have reportedly lived in Dubai since 2012 following a dispute with Bashar over his handling of the conflict in the country, and no reliable information is available on her net worth. .

Ramy Makhlouf

Bashar al-Assad and Rami Makhlouf

Bashar al-Assad and Rami Makhlouf

Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Bashar al-Assad, is considered one of the richest and most powerful men in Syria, and at one time he controlled a large part of the Syrian economy.

The report indicates that Makhlouf publicly disagreed with al-Assad in the spring of 2020 and was placed under house arrest in Latakia. The Syrian authorities have placed many of his commercial interests under state surveillance, and his wealth estimates vary between 5 and 10 billion dollars.

Ramy previously owned the majority of Syriatel Mobile, but was removed from the company’s board in July 2021.

Rami owns 50 percent of the shares of Cham Holding Company, the largest holding company in the country. The Syrian government accused him in 2020 of embezzling funds through fake accounts abroad, while Makhlouf claimed that the money transfers were a tool to evade the sanctions imposed. on Cham Holding Company.

Rami signed exclusive contracts to run tax-free markets in Syria until 2020, when the Assad regime canceled these contracts, accusing him of using companies to “smuggle goods and money”, as these contracts to Rami’s younger brother, Ihab Makhlouf, was transferred.

Ihab Makhlouf

Ihab Makhlouf, Rami’s younger brother, grew up managing the Makhlouf family’s assets when the Syrian government gave him the right to monopolize free markets following a dispute with Rami.

In May 2020, Ehab resigned from his position as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Syriatel, announcing his support for Bashar al-Assad and blaming his brother Rami for the company’s problems.

Ehab owns investments in the financial and banking sectors and manages more than 200 exchange offices in Damascus.

Ripat the lion

Rifaat al-Assad with his brother Hafez al-Assad in 1984

Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of President Bashar, left Syria after a failed attempt to seize power in 1984.

The report indicated that he retained a large business portfolio in Syria until 1999, when he was officially expelled from the country after violent clashes in Latakia between his supporters and those of his brother Hafez.

The Spanish government seized assets filed in Spain in 2017 after being named in a European money laundering investigation, and a French court sentenced him in June 2020 to four years in prison for organized money laundering, tax fraud and embezzlement.

Rifaat’s total property portfolio before its expropriation is estimated at about $ 850 million. Rifaat returned to Syria in October 2021 to escape from prison.

sons of Salis

Dhul Himma Shalish, also known as Zuhair Shalish, and Riad Shalish are Bashar’s cousins.

Dhul-Himma served as commander of the Presidential Guard of the Assad regime until 2019 when the Syrian authorities placed him under house arrest on suspicion of embezzling money.

Riad has long run the Military Housing Corporation, a state-owned public works company.

The Shalish family’s net worth is estimated at more than $ 1 billion due to their business interests, illegal smuggling and money laundering activities.

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