The Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) ordered on Wednesday the seizure of shares owned by Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Syria’s president and one of the country’s richest tycoons, in 12 foreign banks with local branches.
The decision affected his shares in Lebanon’s Audi Bank, Byblos Bank and Fransabank, the Jordan-based Arab Bank and others.
This is the latest in a string of measures taken against the tycoon.
The DSE decision, which Asharq Al-Awsat obtained a copy of, is based on a "precautionary seizure" of the assets of the businessman signed by Syrian Finance Minister Mamoun Hamdan.
The government-ordered seizure of assets of Makhlouf and his family is to guarantee the payment of what is owed to the state by his company Syriatel. In addition to the seizure, the regime has also reportedly banned Makhlouf from bidding on government contracts for five years.
The Syrian Telecommunication Regulatory Authority has demanded that Makhlouf pays around $185 million back in taxes before May 5. Since then, a pressure campaign that targeted senior employees in Makhlouf’s companies and networks had been launched.
The Syrian regime has stripped Makhlouf of his privileges, such as security detail which protected him and his palace.
From his palace in the Yafour suburb near Damascus, Makhlouf has been leading negotiations with the Syrian government. On Monday, he was informed that he would have to give up Syriatel to the country’s “Martyr’s Fund” and that he needs to bring back home billions of dollars from foreign banks to contribute in solving the national economic crisis.
On the other hand, Makhlouf showed "unprecedented obstinacy" and the use of "religious discourse", while accepting to pay the required dues from Syriatel to the government in installments.