Rifat Al Assad, uncle of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, is facing a prosecutor’s request for 8 years in prison and a fine of 2.7 million euros as head of a corporate company designed to launder in Spain close to 700 million of euros of illegal origin, a large part usurped from the Syrian Treasury, with the purchase of real estate on the Costa del Sol (Málaga).
For these events, eight other relatives (most of them their children) and front men for whom the Prosecutor’s Office requests six years in prison and 2.1 million euros. It also demands the confiscation of “all” personal and immovable property and the shares in all the companies involved in the laundering operations.
The National Court plans to try all of them starting Monday, although the eighty-year-old Rifat Al Assad has asked the Criminal Chamber that due to his advanced age he cannot travel to the trialso it is not ruled out that it finally has to be suspended, sources from this court have reported.
Al Assad already has a 4-year prison sentence in France also for laundering through the purchase of real estate valued at a total of 90 million euros
According to the prosecutor’s provisional conclusions, the main defendant was at the “top” of an organization dedicated to money laundering through “corporate instruments and hundreds of companies in cascades managed by the family”, activity that lasted until its “blockade”, both in Spain and in other European countries.
In 1983, the then president of Syria and brother of the defendant, Hafed, suffered a serious illness, but he did not consider Rifat, who was vice president, to form part of the committee that was to govern Syria, so he, “supported by military force at your command”, he tried to seize power and displace his brother, without success.
Once Hafed was restored, he forced him into exile, although in exchange he gave him almost €300 million for his maintenance and that of his family “from the budget of the Syrian presidency”.
In addition to the amounts “illegally looted from the Syrian treasury”, In the 1970s, it is estimated that Rifat also obtained enormous illegal resources from multiple criminal activities such as extortion, threats, smuggling, looting of archaeological wealth, usurpation of real estate, and drug trafficking.
The total amount of money of illicit origin, from various sources, has been estimated by the Syrian opposition at around 4 billion dollars of the time, and “there is no record of the way in which the defendant placed said amounts outside the Syrian State”
The first acquisitions of the Assads in Spain date back to 1986, with the purchase of 244 parking spaces through a Gibraltarian company, and thus they invested in real estate and businesses in the province of Malaga, especially in strategic points of the Costa del Sol. In the town of Benahavís, it acquired a 33 million square meter estate.
It is estimated that the 507 properties acquired in our country between 1986 and 2005 currently have a value of about 700 million euros.
The defendant, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, is the final beneficiary of two trusts based in the tax haven of the Bahamas Islands, called Granada Trust and Alhambra Trust, and that they would be “the head of a pyramidal structure of companies whose sole purpose is to hide the real ownership of a whole series of assets acquired with money illegally obtained in Syria.” He also had 32 Panamanian companies “to manage and hide his fortune.”
In addition to acquiring multiple properties on the Costa del Sol, Rifat took over the exploitation of businesses such as Hotel Park Plaza Suitesin Benabola, or the Plaza Beach Banús, as well as restaurants and parking lots.
The Prosecutor’s Office also accuses him of using money of illicit origin to acquire three armored toyota land cruiseras well as watches, jewelry, metals, carpets and ivories worth 271,878 euros.
Heritage is also attributed to him in Gibraltar, Switzerland, Panama, Jersey or Guernsey, and in the United Kingdom it has, among other properties, the largest private residence after Buckingham Palace.