The uncle of current syrian president Bashar Al Assad has been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment in appeal by a french court for organised money laundering. Severel properties seized.
Read the reporting of french newspaper Le Monde:
This is the second "ill-gotten gains" case to be tried by French courts, after the one involving Equatorial Guinea's vice-president, Teodorin Obiang. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed, Thursday, September 9, the conviction of Rifaat Al-Assad, uncle of the Syrian leader, Bashar Al-Assad, to four years of imprisonment for having fraudulently constituted in France an estate valued at 90 million euros.
The 84-year-old former vice-president of Syria, who has lived in exile since 1984, was convicted of money laundering in an organized group and embezzlement of Syrian public funds, between 1996 and 2016. Absent in the statement of the 'judgment, he had not attended the trial.
As at first instance, the one who presents himself today as an opponent of his nephew Bashar Al-Assad, in power since 2000 in Damascus, sees all the real estate concerned confiscated by the courts. His defense immediately announced a cassation appeal.
In this case, justice seized two mansions, dozens of apartments in Paris, an estate with a castle and stud farm in the Val-d'Oise as well as offices in Lyon, to which can be added 8.4 million euros corresponding to goods sold. These assets were held by Rifaat Al-Assad and his relatives through companies in Panama, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
The defendant absent from his trial
Like the criminal court in June 2020, the court of appeal considered that the defendant's fortune came in particular from the Syrian state coffers, in particular from funds that his brother Hafez Al-Assad had agreed to release in exchange for his exile.
Rifaat Al-Assad, now a UK resident, was also convicted of aggravated tax fraud laundering, as well as covert work by domestic workers. On the other hand, he was acquitted of facts covering the period 1984-1996, for legal reasons.
Over the course of the two trials, his defense had argued that Rifaat Al-Assad's money had a "perfectly lawful" origin: "massive aid" from the crown prince and then king of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah, between the 1980s and his died in 2015.
The defendant was absent from the two trials, prevented for medical reasons, according to his defense. Former head of the elite internal security forces, the "Defense Brigades," Rifaat Al-Assad was at the heart of the Damascus regime, participating in the Hama massacre in 1982, carried out to suppress an Islamist insurgency. After a failed coup d'etat, he left Syria in 1984 with 200 people, and settled in Switzerland and then in France.