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Syria’s Rami Makhlouf Lashes Out at ‘Traitors’

Syria’s Rami Makhlouf Lashes Out at ‘Traitors’

Wednesday, 30 September, 2020 - 05:15
A woman watches the Facebook video of Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf on her mobile in Syria's capital Damascus, on May 11, 2020. Syria/AFP

Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Bashar Assad, escalated his verbal attacks at Syria’s security forces, accusing them of carrying out "the biggest robbery in the Middle East" for the benefit of “traitors” and those who amassed wealth during the war.


Syrian security services have released dozens of employees working in companies run by Makhlouf last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.


In a Tuesday Facebook post, the Syrian tycoon accused the government of transferring assets from his Ramak Development and Humanitarian Projects holding company to politically-connected businessmen.


“The biggest fraud operation in the Middle East is taking place under the cover of security forces in favor of those making fortunes from the war. These are not only ruining the country, but also robbing humanitarian organizations,” he wrote.


Makhlouf said he sent a letter to the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council after similar messages sent to the government went unanswered.


“Aren’t you satisfied with all that you got so you steal the money of the poor?” he asked.


The 51-year-old businessman became embroiled in a power struggle with the state last year, when authorities seized control of his charity, Al-Bustan, and dissolved armed groups affiliated to him.


Syrian authorities have claimed Syriatel owes money to the government, including outstanding fees for maintaining its operating licenses.


The Syrian Observatory has said security forces released 41 of Syriatel's employees and 57 former staff of the Al-Bustan charity in addition to 58 army officers and soldiers connected to a former Makhlouf-funded, pro-regime militia.


Makhlouf said security forces were arresting his employees to pressure him to give up his companies, most notably Syriatel.


Last year, authorities froze the assets of several businessmen over tax evasion and illicit enrichment, including that of Makhlouf, his wife and firms.


The government in May ordered the seizure of assets from Makhlouf and his family, then slapped a travel ban on the businessman.


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