Wed, 26 Jun 2019

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Samer Foz, a Syrian industrialist behind high-end developments, including the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, for allegedly enriching President Bashar al-Assad.

"This Syrian oligarch is directly supporting the murderous Assad regime and building luxury developments on land stolen from those fleeing his brutality," Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an announcement.

The US Treasury Department also blacklisted properties of Foz and his Aman Holding Company including the Four Seasons, the plush hotel that has stayed operational during the war.

The hotel has become a base for United Nations employees in Syria, a point of controversy for Assad opponents who question where the money paid by international staff goes.

Under the sanctions, any of Foz's US assets will be frozen and any US transactions with him or his properties forbidden.

The Treasury Department said Foz had shipped into Syria oil from its ally Iran, despite unilateral US sanctions on all exports out of the Islamic republic.

In the notice, the Treasury Department also said that Foz had taken advantage of an order issued by Assad in 2012 to expel residents of poorer areas to make way for luxury construction.

"This tactic - taking over property owned by Syrian citizens and handing the land to wealthy regime insiders to develop in exchange for revenue sharing - has emerged as Assad's go-to strategy for high-end reconstruction in war-torn Syria," the Treasury Department said.

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