Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf complains regime 'stole his land'

Assad's 'billionaire' cousin Rami Makhlouf complains Syria regime 'stole his land'
2 min read
11 January, 2021
Rami Makhlouf claims his family's property has been confiscated by the Assad regime.
Rami Makhlouf is Bashar al-Assad's cousin [Getty]
Syria's one-time richest businessman and cousin of dictator Bashar Al-Assad has claimed that his family's lands in Syria have been taken over by regime loyalists and cronies.

Rami Makhlouf, a billionaire businessman who was rumoured to have controlled as much as 60 percent of the Syrian economy at one point, fell out of favour with his cousin's regime in 2019.

He is notorious for uploading several videos online where he portrayed himself as a philanthropist who has been wronged by Assad and those close to him.

In his latest Facebook post, he complained that his assets have been confiscated by the regime and that his companies and properties were sold with forged contracts, including false power of attorney letters.

He said he no longer owns his home in Syria and the properties of his children have been effectively confiscated.

"We can't organise agencies to appoint any lawyers to defend ourselves, take any action to preserve our rights or property," he alleged in a Facebook post.

"Because, as lawyers are being threatened, none of them dare to defend our rights even if they are allowed to, so that these gangs have an array of powers, the most important of which is the security authority. They are a sword that controls everyone without exception, as well as the arrest of any treatment before us."

The Assad regime been accused of selling the land and properties of opponents to loyalists and allied militias.

Rights groups and legal experts say local authorities in parts of northwest Syria recaptured by the regime have staged auctions to effectively "confiscate" fertile land from perceived opponents, mostly refugees who fled Assad's assault on the territories.

Several Syrians displaced from southern Idlib and adjacent Hama and Aleppo provinces said that they have seen their lands expropriated.

Some learned about the sale of their land through social media advertisements run by the regime-affiliated Farmers' Union in Idlib or through acquaintances still living nearby.

Makhlouf owned or owns some of Syria's biggest corporations, including Syriatel, while operating a small army of militias.

He has been accused of profiting from the Syria war, while millions of Syrians - including regime loyalists - suffered extreme hardships. Government agencies have pursued Makhlouf over allegedly unpaid taxes and customs.

Some view the regime campaign against Makhlouf as a way or increasing the business opportunities for Assad's inner-circle and reduce the power of a potential opponent of the president.

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