Reports said Tuesday that Merhef Akhras, the cousin of Syrian first lady Asma Assad, was “kidnapped” in Beirut last week.
The Lebanese National News Agency said that Akhras, the son of prominent businessmen Tarif Akhras, disappeared last Thursday under suspicious circumstances on the road between Aley and Chtaura while traveling to Damascus.
The man’s father is the cousin of Fawaz al-Akhras, the father of Asma Assad.
A local radio station reported that Akhras’ wife received a telephone call from the area of east Bekaa from her husband’s Syrian number, asking that she pay $2 million for his release.
Akhras’ car was found parked in Aley.
Local LBC television said that Akhras, who is in his 40s, had moved to Lebanon three years ago.
According to Syrian opposition figures, Tarif owns several food factories, including rice and sugar in Homs.
One opposition source said that Tarif acts on behalf of Asma in several investment projects in the banking, real estate and food industries.
In 2014, Britain’s High Court ordered a 12 month jail term for Tarif due to breach of contract in a deal with Archer Daniels Midland for food imports to Syria.
Akhras had failed to pay $26 million to ADM for corn and soybeans supplied by the commodities house for import to Syria in 2011.
EU and Swiss sanctions were imposed on Akhras for giving support to Syrian authorities.