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Sunday, August 14, 2011

2008 State Dept. memo lists four of Assad's moneymen - but US has not blacklisted them

The US and the EU have put some specific people and institutions fro Syria under sanctions.

The specific list of people that President Obama has sanctioned, as of his Executive Order of April 28, 2011, includes three names:

1. Mahir AL-ASAD [Brigade Commander in the Syrian Army’s Fourth Armored Division, born 1968]

2. Ali MAMLUK [director of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, born 1947]

3. Atif NAJIB [former head of the Syrian Political Security Directorate for Dar’a Province]

In addition, the US maintains a list of some 20 individuals who have been sanctioned over the years in Syria/

 [T]he President of the United States has imposed financial sanctions on Syrian individuals and entities for involvement in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; association with al Qaida, the Taliban or Osama bin Laden; or destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon; or benefiting from public corruption.  The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers these sanctions against individuals and entities that operate in Syria by blocking assets and prohibiting U.S. persons to have financial transactions with them. 

There are currently 20 individuals in Syria that have been sanctioned and are listed on the OFAC Excluded Parties List (EPL).
However, a 2008 Wikileaks cable released last week gives a very specific list of four prominent individuals who, in the State Department's' estimation, are the people most responsible for Syria's corruption and for propping up the regime:

As Washington policy makers consider ways to pressure the regime, one possibility would be to go after President Asad's money-men. Four individuals Asad uses to make and move money are Zuhair Sahloul, Nabil Kuzbari, Asad's uncle Mohammad Makhlouf, and his father-in-law, Fawas Akhras. Each is important to Asad and each plays a somewhat different role in facilitating regime graft.

Sahloul (AKA Abu Shafic) is the most important black-market money changer in Syria. When the Syrian Pound (SYP) devalued precipitously in the fall of 2005, the SARG gave Sahloul an office in the Central Bank and access to its hard currency reserves so he could intervene in the black market to stabilize the currency....

In addition to being the father of Syria's poster-boy for corruption, Rami Makhlouf, Mohammad Makhlouf has long served as a financial advisor to the Asad family. If Rami is the face of corruption, Mohammad is the brain. When Asad agreed to open the telecom sector to cellphone providers, it was Mohammad that some credit with conceptualizing the deal whereby Rami took over the first provider, SyriaTel, (long Rami's biggest cash-cow), and the second license (originally to SpaceTel, then Areeba 94, and now MTN) went to the first-lady's family...

Because of the Makhlouf's excesses and Asad's inherited propensity to limit the power and influence of his family members, Nabil Kuzbari has played an increasingly important role for the first-family. Known locally as "the Paper King," Kuzbari's base of operations has long been in Vienna. In the last two years, however, he has developed an increasingly collaborative relationship with Rami and Mohammed Makhlouf. Last year he served as Rami's frontman in establishing his holding company, Sham Holding, which brought together 70 of Syria's most-important business families to fund a number of Rami's most ambitious entrepreneurial projects. In addition to lobbying European politicians to engage the Asad regime, Kuzbari reportedly uses his contacts in the Austrian business and banking circles to move regime assets abroad.

In addition to being Asad's father-in-law, Fawas Akhras has been increasingly active in business here in Syria. Akhras is the force behind the Syrian-British Business Council and recently put together a visit to London by a large group of Syrian businessmen. ...Contacts in the banking
sector have commented on the large amount of funds that have begun to move recently through his accounts. A long-time resident of London, he is suspected of being another avenue used by Asad to stash funds abroad.

Post has long advocated moving against individuals, like those listed above, who are intregal to allowing the regime to profit from its corruption. Taking action against those linked to corruption is a win-win proposition: not only does it bring pressure on the regime where it hurts most - its pocketbook, but such a move would also be popular with the average Syrian who is the most common victim of the regime's avarice.
These four people, known for at least 3 years, are not on any list of those being sanctioned by the US.

It's now been four months since the Syrian revolt started. Why are these individuals not on any list of those being sanctioned?