NICOSIA - Cyprus has rescinded citizenship briefly bestowed upon a Syrian billionaire suspected by the European Union of helping to bankroll President Bashar Assad's government, authorities said on Saturday.
Rami Makhlouf, who is a maternal cousin of Assad, is widely considered part of the Syrian president's inner circle and one of the most influential men in Syria.
Cyprus granted him citizenship in January 2011, and it was later extended to his wife and three sons. But in August 2012 the cabinet decided to withdraw citizenship for the whole family, which a legal review panel approved in March.
The decision was rubber-stamped by the Cypriot government at a cabinet meeting this week.
Cypriot daily Phileleftheros said Makhlouf did not respond to requests to appear at the review panel and sent lawyers from Syria and Paris instead.
The tycoon has been under US sanctions since 2008 for what Washington calls public corruption. European Union foreign ministers slapped further sanctions on him in May 2011, accusing him of bankrolling Assad.