Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Syrian regime tackles on offshore companies to overcome sanctions

Business | 2017-07-22 12:53:16
Syrian regime tackles on offshore companies to overcome sanctions

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Observers monitoring the governmental commercial deals happening within the Syrian regime apparatus and the names of the companies applying for these deals cannot help but notice that most of these companies include the word offshore in their name. What are these companies? What is the secret of their increase in the past six years?

Offshore companies are a means of laundering money laundering and evading tax in countries in the company owners’ home country. Panama documents revealed last year the extent of these activities as most of the money laundering was done by offshore companies and these are used by businessmen and politicians to hide their money.

The licensing system for offshore companies is simple and takes only a month, and anyone can apply for it online and at a limited cost without having to disclose their source of money. It is relatively easy to have banking and information secrecy. Most of the parties giving licenses to these types of companies exist in Britain and the United States of America.

The advantage of this type of companies is that it allows license holders to carry out legal international trade operations without being held accountable by any party and in any country that he trades with. The license holder also enjoys large tax exemptions as stipulated in the law of this type of companies.

In Syria, the regime found in this type of companies as an opportunity to evade the international economic sanctions imposed on al-Assad and his men. Offshore companies offer that possibility since anyone, even without sufficient financial solvency, can obtain the license from the parent company in Britain which is primarily concerned with obtaining the annual license fee and taxes that a small amount.

According to our information, more than 20 offshore company have been licensed in Syria for six years now. The first companies were for Rami Makhlouf, who founded a commercial marine transport company which became licensed based on their need to launder money and undertake foreign trade deals. 

Special sources confirmed the licenses for these type of companies are in the names of ordinary people, but they work for senior businessmen, high ranking intelligence officials, and politicians who have been affected by European economic sanctions.

By monitoring the work of these companies in Syria, we noticed that that one of the tenders for the purchase of 200,000 tons of wheat from Russia, which took place on July 05, 2017 was submitted by two companies only Systus Offshore and Ghorub Offshore. The first offered 220 US Dollars per ton and the second 230 US Dollars per ton. The first offer overshadowed the second one, but of interest to us is the company owners. After scrutinizing information about the companies, it emerged that both belong to one of the most influential executives in the intelligence services, but they are registered under two pseudo or ordinary names.

The biggest scandal reported in the regime's media was that the Minister of Interior Abdullah al-Gharbi had lent the company the tender was awarded to a sum of 1.7 billion Syrian Pounds to carry out the deal. 

This news resulted in much criticism, but these were silenced. According to the details mentioned by regime media outlets, the Minister held an urgent meeting and singularly decided to lend the company this sum, despite the objection of many of the ministerial staff who asked: How can we allow a company to trade with government funds?! But the Minister insisted on his decision without responding to the question raising the suspicion that whoever stands behind this company must be very important to the regime. (Reporting by Fuad Abdelaziz)
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