Politics

Syria's central bank governor faces sanctions

By AFP

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Men walk outside the Central Bank of Syria headquarters in the Sabaa Bahrat Square of Damascus on June 17th. [Louai Beshara/AFP]

The US on Wednesday (September 30th) slapped sanctions on Syria's central bank governor, Hazem Karfoul, and 16 other people or institutions.

The move comes as part of the Caesar Act, through which the US aims to prevent any reconstruction effort or normalisation of trade without accountability over atrocities under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US ordered the freezing of any US assets of Karfoul, and the other Syrians, with any financial transactions with them now punishable in the US.

The US Treasury, which is widely targeting anyone affiliated with al-Assad, did not allege specific crimes by Karfoul but pointed to reports he tried to shake down businesses to contribute to state coffers.

Those who continue to stand with the Syrian regime "further enable its corruption and human rights abuses", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Also designated by the Treasury are businessman Khodr Taher bin Ali and Husam Muhammad Louka, head of the General Intelligence Directorate.

Taher was accused of being a key supplier for the army's 4th Division including through the creation of a private security firm that has become the unit's "informal executive arm".

The Treasury said Taher also set up a telecommunications provider, Emma Tel LLC, in an apparent bid to counter Rami Makhlouf, a tycoon who has fallen out with his cousin al-Assad.

The State Department separately said it was designating three people or units over deadly airstrikes three years ago in the Idlib province town of Armanaz.

The September 29th, 2017, airstrikes killed at least 35 people, including at least three children, according to five witnesses and photos and video footage analysed by Human Rights Watch.

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