The Guardian reports: The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has amassed up to $1.5bn (£950m) for his family and his close associates, according to analysts, despite moves in London, Switzerland and the US to freeze the assets of his regime.
Many of Assad’s assets are held in Russia, Hong Kong and a range of offshore tax havens to spread the risk of seizure, according to London-based business intelligence firm Alaco.
A myriad of companies and trusts are understood to have been deployed to disguise assets that ultimately belong to members of the Syrian regime.
Iain Willis, the head of research at Alaco, said the millions of pounds frozen in UK bank accounts make up just a fraction of the regime’s estimated global wealth.
In peacetime, the Assads and their close friends owned around 60% to 70% of the country’s assets, from land and factories to energy plants and licences to sell foreign goods. But Assad would find it difficult to liquidate such assets in the event of his regime’s collapse.
“In terms of realisable assets, it’s likely to be in the region of $1bn to $1.5bn (£636m to £950m),” said Willis. “This would be in line with Egypt’s Mubarak and the Marcoses of the Philippines.
“These are held, not just by Assad himself, but by extended family members, by second cousins, uncles, business partners and their advisers.
“Those funds are likely to be held in places like Russia, maybe Dubai, Lebanon, Morocco, even Hong Kong, but the assets themselves are likely to be worldwide.”