US sanctions Syrian businessman Samer Foz, entities for links to Assad

Sanctions were placed on Syrian businessman Samer Foz, a Syrian industrialist behind high-end developments - including the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus - for enriching Bashar Assad. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 12 June 2019

US sanctions Syrian businessman Samer Foz, entities for links to Assad

  • US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Samer Foz for links to Assad
  • Treasury said also sanctioning entities that imported Iranian oil into Syria

WASHINGTON: The US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Samer Foz, a Syrian industrialist behind high-end developments, including the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, for allegedly enriching President Bashar Assad.

"This Syrian oligarch is directly supporting the murderous Assad regime and building luxury developments on land stolen from those fleeing his brutality," Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an announcement.

Sanctions were placed on Syrian businessman Foz and his family, who have close ties to Assad and who Washington said 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 Treasury said.

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.

The Treasury Department said Foz had shipped into Syria oil from its ally Iran, despite unilateral US sanctions on all exports out of the Islamic republic.

In the notice, the Treasury Department also said that Foz had taken advantage of an order issued by Assad in 2012 to expel residents of poorer areas to make way for luxury construction.

"This tactic -- taking over property owned by Syrian citizens and handing the land to wealthy regime insiders to develop in exchange for revenue sharing -- has emerged as Assad's go-to strategy for high-end reconstruction in war-torn Syria," the Treasury Department said.

Under the sanctions, any of Foz's US assets will be frozen and any US transactions with him or his properties forbidden.

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.

Meanwhile, the Four Seasons hotel has become a base for UN employees working in Syria, a point of controversy for Assad opponents who question where the money paid by international staff goes.

 


Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

Updated 24 min 27 sec ago

Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

  • Coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen
  • The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21

DUBAI: Emirates has opened online bookings for 12 Arab countries for flights starting on July 1.
The destinations include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, but bookings are still subject to change, local media said.
“Currently some of our flights are available for booking starting  July 1; however, the situation still  remains dynamic and these flight services could be subject to change, We aim to provide our customers with as much notice as possible should there be any changes,” an Emirates spokesperson told weekly magazine Arabian Business.
However, coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen.
The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21 as regular scheduled flights to some destinations resumed.
These measures introduced include complimentary hygiene kits for all passengers, staggered boarding – carried out on a row-by-row basis – with all flights over one-and-a-half hours having a cabin service assistant, who will ensure the toilets are cleaned every 45 minutes.
Other measures include a series of precautions for transit passengers in Dubai, ensuring strict social distancing and requiring passengers and crew to wear masks and gloves at all times.