Syria: Assets frozen in Switzerland, money smuggled to Lebanon
The Swiss government has announced that it has frozen 27 million Swiss francs ($31.8 million dollars) belonging to senior officials in the Syrian regime. According to the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economy of Switzerland these assets were frozen as part of Swiss sanctions imposed on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and 22 other officials.
Syria attacked these sanctions declaring they harm the Syrian people and add a black page to Switzerland’s colonial history in the Arab region.
The measures taken by the Swiss government come after the European Union expanded its sanctions against Syria to include 7 new people and 4 companies linked to President Bashar al-Assad due to what they described as the "seriousness of the situation in the country”.
Last May, the European Union imposed penalties on Syria, including freezing President Bashar al-Assad’s assets and preventing him from obtaining visas.
In May, Switzerland said it would impose a travel ban on 13 Syrian officials and freeze any assets they have in Swiss banks as a reaction to the violent campaign launched by the government against protestors, advocates of reform, in which more than 1,300 civilians were killed, thousands of others injured, and about 15 thousand arrested.
In the last few years, Switzerland has frozen the assets of several ousted leaders and agreed in 2009 to ease the restrictions on secret bank accounts to help other countries detect tax fraud.
A statement was issued by the organizers of the National Salvation Conference. The document aims to develop general principles to help Syria get out of the current crisis through a transitional phase which would be approved by the Syrian people, imposed by the popular movement and led by a government of National Salvation establishing a new constitution, forming a modern civil nation, and holding parliamentary and presidential elections during a specified period. The statement was signed by 50 people, including the Kurdish Leader Mashaal Tammo and opponents Haitham al-Maleh, Aref Dalila and Walid al-Bunni.
It should be noted that there are reports that senior Syrian officials have recently smuggled their money to the Lebanese banking sector. The smuggled sum is estimated at about US$20 billion. The move highlights the growing fears of the imminent collapse of the current Syrian regime.