Assad Cousin Loses Appeal of EU Asset Freeze

(CN) – The European Court of Justice on Thursday upheld an asset freeze that has been imposed for seven years against a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The European Council, a body composed of EU member-state executive governments, has explained that 48-year-old Rami Makhlouf belongs on the sanctions list because his business interests allow him to finance and otherwise support Syria’s regime.

Makhlouf is described by the council as an influential member of the Makhlouf family with close connections to the Assad family. His financial interests include senior and executive positions in Syriatel, the leading mobile telephone operator in Syria, as well as the investment funds Al Mashreq, Bena Properties and Cham Holding.

Apart from telecommunications, Makhlouf is also said to have interests in the financial services, transport and property sectors.

Makhlouf appealed to the EU’s top court after the EU General Court dismissed his challenge last year. Inclusion on the list also keeps Makhlouf from entering or traveling through the European Union.

A copy of the Court of Justice’s ruling is not available in English. In a statement, the court said Makhlouf failed to show that the General Court omitted to rule on several of his arguments.

Rather than requiring Makhlouf to prove that he was not or was no longer connected to the Syrian regime, the General Court held that the Council’s evidence “actually demonstrated that Mr. Makhlouf was associated with and provided support to the Syrian regime,” according to the press release.

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