Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority accuse Rami Makhlouf of deluding
Damascus - SMART
On Monday, the Syrian government’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority accused Rami Makhlouf, the Syrian businessman and the cousin of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, of deluding to pay outstanding amounts upon rebalancing his license as the head of the Syriatel Mobile Network Provider Company’s board.
Earlier, the authority issued a statement to collect public funds by all legal means. The authority held Syriatel responsible for all law and operational consequences after rejecting to pay outstanding funds to the state two weeks after the time limit ended.
Makhlouf responded to the authority on his Facebook account, denying that he rejected to pay the funds. Makhlouf said that Syriatel submitted a note to the authority that is registered in its Diwan, Number 4,777 on May 10,2020. The note explained that the Syriatel is ready to pay the due funds, asking the authority to specify the sum of the first payment, other payments, and the interest payments.
The authority responded to Makhlouf accusing him of delusion to elude paying the rights of the public treasury.
The authority posted a documentation signed by its executive manager Ayman Muhammad Shafeq Zuya al-Yamaa, the financial manager Wasim Riyadh Abu Shaar, the information systems executive manager Miziyad Sakhur Abdul Momen al-Atasi, and the procurement executive manager Khalil Sharel Yousef.
Those who signed the documentation emphasized rebalancing individual license given to the Syriatel Company by modifying the portion of sharing incomes to 50 percent. They noted that they informed Makhlou that it is necessary to agree; however, he did not grant them authorization.
Makhlouf published a video on his Facebook account saying that certain parties from the Syrian government security forces are threatening him of imprisonment if he did not relinquish his company, adding that he was asked to pay 50 percent of the company’s capital (about 120% of the profit) or the company’s assets will be seized.
The Syrian Telecommunication and Post Authority (SYTRA) issued a statement on May 2, 2020, in which it responded to the accusations of Makhlouf. The statement said that it set a deadline on May 5, 2020, as the companies agreed to negotiate a mechanism to pay an amount of 233.8 billion SYP (about 180 million US dollars) for the fees of initial licensing allowance, confirming that the sums to be paid by the company are sums due to the government.
Rami Makhlouf founded the Mobile network provider company, Syriatel, in 2002, where he owned 10 percent of the shares, while 63 percent of owned by Drex Technologies S.A. which he founded in the British Virgin Islands. Makhlouf's fortune in 2012 was estimated at 6 billion US dollars (about 10 trillion SYP).
In April 2016, the Panama Papers revealed that the brothers Rami and Hafez Makhlouf took advantage of the kinship’s relationship with the President Bashar al-Assad for economic domination and intimidation of competitors. The two brothers were able to evade the economic sanctions by using the offshores’ system of commercial companies. Al-Assad relatives and people close to him control the economic activity and monopolize most of the natural resources in Syria.
The offshore companies exist in countries with low taxes and financial institutions that are not subject to international control, as they provide advantages, the most important of which are the tax haven, easy access to deposits and protection from financial or political instability, in addition to bank privacy, at a time when these companies and banks are linked to money laundering, organized crime, and tax evasion.
The Syrian government is subject to sanctions by several countries and entities, including the European Union and the United States, whose sanctions include the freezing of bank accounts and the prohibition of dealing with institutions that support the Syrian government, in addition to sanctions on local and international companies and preventing exports from Syria or investing in Syria.