April 06, 2017

Spain has just seized $740 million worth of property from Syrian president's uncle

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, Spain's highest court seized a huge real estate portfolio belonging to Rifaat Al Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Spanish authorities said they are investigating the elder Assad for money laundering, thus seized 503 properties belonging to him and his relatives worth €691 million ($740 million).

Rifaat Al Assad, 79, was vice president of Syria in the 1980s when his brother and Bashar's father Hafez ruled the country.
He was exiled in 1984 for attempting to seize power while Hafez recovered from heart problems. He has mostly lived in exile in Europe since then.

The investigation in Spain includes 16 individuals associated with Assad, including two wives, six of his children and one Spanish citizen who allegedly administered Assad's assets in the country. Officials in Spain say Assad may have taken as much as $300 million from Syrian state coffers for personal gain.

Rifaat Al Assad has also lived in France, where authorities investigated him in 2013 for embezzlement of Syrian funds and seized €90 million ($95 million) of real estate belonging to his family.

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