April 10, 2013
April 10, 2013
Four men are in charge of managing the assets and money of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, both inside and outside the country, according to a classified document from the U.S. embassy in Damascus that has been published by WikiLeaks.
The names of the four are Zuhair Sahloul, Nabil al-Kuzbari, Mohamed Makhlouf and Fawaz al-Akhras.
Sahloul is the most powerful man in black-market currency exchange in Syria, the document states.
The government gave him an office in the Syrian Central Bank, from which he was asked to deal with the devaluation of the Syrian pound in 2005.
Within weeks, Sahloul had regained 20 percent of the currency’s value, and made huge profits for himself and the regime.
He is in charge of managing the president’s money due to his contacts, which allow Sahloul to transfer $10 million to anywhere in the world within 24 hours, according to the document.
Makhlouf, Assad’s uncle on his mother’s side, is described in the telegram as the “mastermind of corruption.”
Makhlouf gave his son Rami the first license for a mobile-phone provider in the country, Syriatel, the document states.
Kuzbari is known as “the paper king.” His business in based in Vienna, and he has close ties with the Makhloufs.
Kuzbari played an important role in encouraging several European politicians to establish closer ties with Assad, and is using his business and banking connections abroad to transfer the president’s assets outside the country.
Akhras, Assad’s father-in-law, is extremely active in Syria’s business sector, using his family ties with the president to expand his influence, the document states.
Tracking Akhras’s account activities, and the amounts of money he has transferred, confirms speculation about his role in making a large portion of the president’s money disappear.