Syrian tycoon and cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, Rami Makhlouf, spoke again on Sunday in a video posted on Facebook in which he accused authorities of threatening to arrest him and shutting down his telecommunications company.
Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, accused Damascus on Sunday (May 17th) of threatening to arrest him and shut down his telecommunications company if he did not pay the state the profits.
In a sixteen-minute video posted on Facebook, the third since April, Rami Makhlouf, head of a holding company, including the telephone company Syriatel, the country’s leading mobile operator, accused the regime of wanting to end his empire.
إِنَّ الـظَّـالِـمِـيــنَ بَـعْــضُـهُـمْ أَوْلِـيَـاءُ بَـعْـضٍ واللهُ وَلِـيُّ الْـمُـتَّـقِـيـنَ
Posted byرامي مخلوفOn Sunday May 17, 2020
Scrambles with power
Registered on the American sanctions list since 2008, the 51-year-old businessman had already published two videos on Facebook, in which he arrested Bashar al-Assad while pouring out on arrears claimed by the state and the intimidation of the security services.
He said on Sunday that the authorities “demanded that we transfer the profits of our business to the state, failing which we would be arrested” and the company’s license revoked. “They want 120% of the profits [de la société]”, he added.
His quarrel with power erupted in the summer of 2019, when authorities took control of his charity, Al-Boustan, before dissolving affiliated militias.
In December, when the government froze the assets of several businessmen for tax evasion and illegal enrichment during the war, Rami Makhlouf was notably concerned.
Measures likely to “destroy the Syrian economy”
In late April, the tycoon, a long-time pillar of the regime, had already challenged the payment of more than 160 million euros in arrears demanded by the authorities, describing the request as “unfair”.
This amount is not a tax, but “an amount imposed by a particular group, without any right or recourse to the law”, he assured Sunday, indicating however to be ready to pay this sum as a support in the state”.
According to him, the authorities now require the signature by Syriatel of an exclusive contract with an unidentified supplier, without any call for tenders and his resignation at the head of the company.
“If you think I’m going to give up under these conditions, it means that you don’t know me,” he said.
Calling the regime’s demands and pressures a “soap opera”, the businessman warned against measures that he believed could “destroy the Syrian economy” already faltering after nine years of war.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (PSDH), nearly 60 employees have been arrested by law enforcement since April. Rami Makhlouf also condemned the arrests on Sunday.