Soldiers walk past damaged buildings in Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus.
(photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)
The United States made a decision on Tuesday to sanction Syrian businessman Samer Foz and his family, who have close ties to President Bashar Assad.
The US Treasury claimed that Foz has made millions by developing properties on land seized from those who have fled the Syrian war.
The sanctions were being placed on Foz, his siblings Amer and Husen, and the family-owned Aman Holding, a company run by the Foz family from the coastal city of Latakia, the US Department of the Treasury said.
According to a statement from the US Treasury, Foz has been profiting heavily from reconstruction efforts in Syria, including through luxury developments on land seized by the Syrian regime from its own people, and has been attempting to enlist foreign investors into Syrian reconstruction projects.
Moreover, the Treasury said that in 2012, "Assad signed a decree to expel citizens in poorer areas of Damascus from their homes to pave the way for luxury reconstruction projects, including Marota City in the Mazzeh District.
"To fund and fulfill these contracts, the regime formed joint ventures with private businessmen, including Samer Foz," it explained.
"On January 21, 2019, the European Union sanctioned Foz, Aman Damascus, and 14 other individuals and entities for using their ties with the Syrian regime for their own financial benefit, and for helping to finance the regime including through joint ventures formed with regime-backed companies to develop land expropriated from persons displaced by the conflict in Syria," the statement explained. "Those persons sanctioned by the EU have been supporting and benefiting from the Assad regime’s brutality, and their reconstruction investments prevent displaced persons from returning to their homes."
Foz-owned ASM International General Trading and its affiliates throughout the Middle East were also included in the sanctions. ASM is involved in grain and sugar trade, and oil field operations.
"Samer Foz, his relatives, and his business empire have leveraged the atrocities of the Syrian conflict into a profit-generating enterprise," Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “Treasury is committed to holding accountable profiteers who enrich the coffers of the Assad regime while Syrian civilians suffer this man-made humanitarian crisis.”
The US Treasury said it was also sanctioning Synergy SAL and BS Company, which have imported tens of thousands of metric tons of Iranian oil into Syria.
It went on to say that Husen's company, Silverpine DMCC, was also being designated on Tuesday.
"Silverpine is an international trading company that operates out of the ASM International Trading offices," the Treasury added.
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