Qatari tycoon brothers and Doha Bank sued for funding Syrian militants

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Moutaz (left) and Ramez Al-Khayyat are accused of using their accounts at Doha Bank to fund the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. (Supplied)
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Doha Bank’s largest shareholder is Qatar Investment Authority. (Shutterstock)
Updated 08 August 2019

Qatari tycoon brothers and Doha Bank sued for funding Syrian militants

  • The Times report says a group of Syrians have filed the claim at a London court against the bank and two brothers involved in transfers
  • The claim says the brothers used accounts at Doha Bank to send funds to the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front

LONDON: Two billionaire Qatari brothers and a Doha-based bank are being sued in a British court for channeling cash to Al-Nusra Front militants in Syria.

Moutaz and Ramez Al-Khayyat are accused of using their accounts at Doha Bank to fund the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. They are being sued at the High Court in London by eight Syrians who say they lost homes and businesses, and suffered physical and mental harm, because of Al-Nusra’s activities.

The Syrian claimants live in Europe, and have been granted anonymity by the court.

“The Khayyat brothers financed and/or assisted in financing Al-Nusra Front, including through accounts held by them and/or entities associated with them at Doha Bank,” the lawsuit alleges.

The claimants say funds were sent through the bank to accounts in Turkey and Lebanon, where cash was withdrawn and taken across the Syrian border to the militants. “As a result of the defendants’ actions, Al-Nusra Front was able to cause loss and damage to the claimants,” the lawsuit says.

The claimants say Doha Bank and the two businessmen “knew (or ought to have known) that the funds that passed from them or through their accounts were intended for Al-Nusra Front,” and that they had therefore “breached international and national laws.”

A spokesman for Doha Bank said they were taking legal advice but believed the claim to be “groundless and without merit.”

The Khayyat brothers run Power International Holding, one of Qatar’s largest conglomerates, with interests in construction, property and dairy farming. One of their property developments is next to the Iranian Embassy in London.

Doha Bank’s largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority, the state’s sovereign wealth fund, and its chairman is Sheikh Fahad bin Mohammad bin Jabor Al-Thani, a member of the ruling family.

The Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a trade, travel and diplomatic boycott on Qatar in June 2017 because of Doha’s support for extremist groups and funding of terrorism.

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

Updated 3 min 6 sec ago

US sanctions Iran minister over Internet censorship

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury slapped punitive sanctions on Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Friday after the Tehran regime blocked Internet communications amid violent protests triggered by a petrol price hike.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open Internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor Internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Mnuchin said.
The protests erupted across the country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed after authorities reportedly used live ammunition to quell the protests, which brought attacks on police stations and petrol stations and some looting of shops.
The Treasury said Azari Jahomi is a former official of the Ministry of Intelligence who has advanced Internet censorship since becoming minister two years ago.
He has “also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists,” the Treasury said.
Internet service remained mostly blocked on Friday for a sixth day, with officials and news agencies saying the blackout was gradually being rolled back.
The sanctions would freeze financial assets and property Azari Jahomi has in US jurisdictions and forbid Americans or US businesses, especially banks, from dealing with him.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Iran of blocking the Internet to cover up “death and tragedy” resulting from the protests.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he wrote.