US Sanctions 16 Syrian Entities, Individuals for Enriching Assad
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated on Tuesday 16 Syrian individuals and entities associated with an international network benefiting Bashar Assad’s regime.
Among them is oligarch Samer Foz, who “is directly supporting the murderous Assad regime and building luxury developments on land stolen from those fleeing his brutality," Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an announcement.
“Samer Foz, his relatives, and his business empire have leveraged the atrocities of the Syrian conflict into a profit-generating enterprise,” she added.
Foz has been profiting heavily from reconstruction efforts in Syria—including through luxury developments on land seized by the regime from its own people—and has been attempting to enlist foreign investors into Syrian reconstruction projects.
The US Treasury Department also blacklisted properties of Foz and his Aman Holding Company including the Four Seasons, the plush hotel that has stayed operational during the war.
The hotel has become a base for United Nations employees in Syria, a point of controversy for Assad opponents who question where the money paid by international staff goes.
Foz-owned ASM International General Trading and its affiliates throughout the Middle East were also included in the sanctions. ASM is involved in grain and sugar trade, and oil field operations.
Under the sanctions, any of Foz's US assets will be frozen and any US transactions with him or his properties forbidden.
The Treasury Department said Foz had shipped into Syria oil from its ally Tehran, despite unilateral US sanctions on all exports out of Iran.
In the notice, the Treasury Department also said that Foz had taken advantage of an order issued by Assad in 2012 to expel residents of poorer areas to make way for luxury construction.
"This tactic -- taking over property owned by Syrian citizens and handing the land to wealthy regime insiders to develop in exchange for revenue sharing -- has emerged as Assad's go-to strategy for high-end reconstruction in war-torn Syria," the Treasury Department said.
The Treasury also sanctioned Lebanon-based entities for having facilitated shipments of Iranian-origin petroleum to Syria: Synergy SAL (Offshore) and BS Company (Offshore).
Synergy SAL (Offshore) has shipped tens of thousands of metric tons of Iranian oil into Syria in the past year by sea.
BS Company (Offshore) is one of the largest importers of crude oil into Syria, and has imported hundreds of thousands of metric tons of Iranian light crude oil in the past year using a variety of oil tanker vessels and tanker trucks. These land- and sea-based shipments are destined for Banias Refinery Company.
BS Company (Offshore) is also affiliated with the Qatirji Group. As of September 5, 2018, the Qatirji Group and its co-owner Mohammad Bara Qatirji are subject to US sanctions.