Syrian tycoon and cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, Rami Makhlouf, spoke again on Sunday in a video posted on Facebook accusing the authorities of threatening to arrest him and shutting down his telecommunications company.
Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, accused Damascus on Sunday (May 17) of threatening to arrest him and shutting down his telecommunications company if he did not pay the state profits.
In a sixteen-minute video posted on Facebook, the third since April, RamiMakhlouf, head of a holding company, including the phone company Syriatel, the country’s leading mobile operator, accused the regime of wanting to end its rule.
Posted byرامي مخلوفOn Sunday, May 17, 2020
Hugs with force
The 51-year-old businessman had already been published on the US sanctions list since 2008 and had already posted two videos on Facebook, arresting Bashar al-Assad while pouring on arrears claimed by the state and the measures threatening security services.
He said on Sunday that the authorities “demanded that we transfer the profits from our operations to the state without being arrested” and the company license revoked. “They want 120% of the profits [de la société]”, he added.
His quarrel with power broke out in the summer of 2019, when authorities took control of his charity, Al-Boustan, before disbanding 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 particularly concerned.
Measures likely to “destroy the Syrian economy”
By the end of April, the tycoon, a longtime pillar of the regime, had questioned the payment of more than € 160 million in arrears demanded by the authorities, describing the request as “unfair”.
This amount is not a tax, but “an amount introduced by a certain group, without any right or application of the law”, he assured on Sunday, but indicated that he was ready to pay this amount as a state aid.
According to him, the authorities are now demanding that Syriatel sign an exclusive agreement with an unidentified supplier without a tender and his departure from the company’s head.
“If you think I’m going to give up in these circumstances, it means you don’t know me,” he said.
Calling the regime’s demands and pressuring a “double opera,” the businessman cautioned against measures he thought could “destroy the Syrian economy” that had already faltered after nine years of war.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (PSDH), nearly 60 employees have been arrested by police since April. On Sunday, Rami Makhlouf also condemned the arrests.