Rami Makhlouf Launches Counterattack after Syrian Regime Seizes his Assets
Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad, launched a counter attack on measures taken by the Syrian authorities to seize his assets, stressing his involvement in “charitable works.”
“After reports about a donation we planned to make during the holy month of Ramadan to assist our people, things went out of control. We received threats to stop our work, simply because we dared to publically offer assistance to the needy, and because we announced financing the Al-Bustan Association,” Makhlouf wrote on his Facebook page.
He asked, “Why the more grants we offer, the more the curse we receive?”
Last year, Makhlouf was linked to financing pro-regime forces and their militias, mainly through Al-Bustan Association.
“Since many years we have made donations to support our people.”
The Syrian regime has ordered a series of measures against Makhlouf’s companies, including the Association, and his shares in the state-owned Syrian Telecom Company (Syriatel), the country’s biggest mobile phone company.
The government’s Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority informed two of Makhlouf’s companies, “Syriatel” and “MTN” mobile phone to pay about 234 billion Syrian pounds to the state treasury as a penalty.
It set May 5 as a deadline for the two firms to comply with the decision.
In case of failure of compliance within the specified time limit, the Authority said it would take all necessary legal measures to guarantee the rights of the public treasury.
Official media quoted a Syrian economic researcher as saying that the amendment of the contracts with the two mobile companies has caused the loss of more than 338 billion pounds (482 million dollars) to the treasury.
Last week, the Syrian Finance Ministry seized the assets of the “Abar Petroleum Service SAL offshore” company, which is registered in Beirut and manages the transfer of shipments of petroleum products, diesel, gasoline, and liquefied gas.
Makhlouf is on the list of US sanctions for supporting the Damascus regime.
The Syrian authorities accuse Makhlouf of violating the import rules by smuggling products worth 1.9 billion Syrian pounds without paying charges and fees.
Makhlouf denies links to the company.
The measures against Makhlouf come as part of a campaign launched last year by the Syrian regime to force entrepreneurs and businessmen to pay millions of dollars to the Central Bank to save the country from bankruptcy.