IT has been suggested for some time that Rifaat al-Assad, uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has over a period of years been involved in money laundering and misappropriating large amounts of money from the Syrian government.
At one time, he was vice-president of that country but was expelled from Syria by his brother, father of the current president, as it was suspected that he was planning to lead a coup and to become ruler.
It was then that it is believed that he stole $300 million (€282 million) some of which he spent on real estate in France before the French authorities claimed that he had embezzled the money and seized some of the properties back.
Following this, he moved to Spain and is alleged to have purchased more than 500 properties -mainly on the Costa del Sol – said to be worth nearly €700 million and on the morning of April 4, officers of the Guardia Civil raided one of his properties in the Gray D’Albion building in Puerto Banus looking for evidence of his activities.
Searches were also made of a total of 15 properties and bank accounts of a number of associates including children of Rifaat al-Assad have been blocked.
In addition, all of his properties, including a huge farm in Benahavis have been seized by the Spanish courts whilst investigations continue, although the whereabouts of al-Assad are not currently known.