The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Assad, has ordered a series of measures against companies owned by his cousin, Rami Makhlouf, in Syria, informed sources said on Tuesday.
The sources said the measures involve Makhlouf’s shares in the state-owned Syrian Telecom Company (Syriatel), the country’s biggest mobile phone company.
Makhlouf, Assad’s first cousin and the son of Mohammed Makhlouf, is considered a top businessmen in Syria.
In the past few years, Samer Foz appeared as a main competitor to Makhlouf, particularly after purchasing his stake at the Four Seasons hotel in the capital Damascus.
The European Union and the US have imposed sanctions on both Makhlouf and Foz due to their role in supporting the Syrian regime.
Makhlouf founded several companies, including Cham Holding. He was later linked to financing pro-regime forces and their linked militias, mainly through Al-Bustan Association.
The Syrian opposition website Kuluna Shuraka (All4Syria) reported on Tuesday that Moscow asked from Damascus a large sum of money and that Assad contacted his uncle, currently present in Russia, for this end.
However, the website said Makhlouf failed to provide the sum prompting the regime to ask a “committee tasked with fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorism, to start an investigation with 29 of the most powerful Syrian businessmen, including Makhlouf.”
The website said similar measures were taken against Mohammed Hamsho, a Syrian businessman with extensive links to the Syrian government and the Assad family.
The Damascus regime had earlier taken measures against Ayman Jaber, another businessman active in the Syrian coast.
Some opposition figures said on Tuesday that Moscow asked that Damascus pay $1billion.