Trump administration takes action against accused war profiteer with ties to Syrian dictator Assad

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A general view of the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Syria.

Louai Beshara | AFP | Getty Images

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced new penalties against prominent Syrian businessman and accused war profiteer Samer Foz, who it said leveraged a personal relationship with dictator Bashar Assad to build luxury developments in the war-torn country.

“This Syrian oligarch is directly supporting the murderous Assad regime and building luxury developments on land stolen from those fleeing his brutality,” Sigal Mandelker, a Treasury official, said in a statement.

The department targeted Foz, his businesses, and his siblings Amer Foz and Husen Foz, who operate ventures in Syria and the United Arab Emirates, according to a press release. The designation bars financial transactions involving the United States.

Foz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency also announced that it has targeted two Lebanon-based companies that it said facilitated shipments of Iranian petroleum to Syria. Trump has reinstated a number of sanctions on Iran that target its oil industry.

Foz is the owner of a number of luxury properties in Syria, including the Four Seasons Damascus and the Orient Club, according to the Treasury Department. He is also the owner of businesses in the trading, banking, construction and commodities sectors, the agency said.

Assad has sought to develop high-end properties in Syria by forming partnerships with private industry. In 2012, the government issued an order to expel residents of poor neighborhoods in order to develop luxury properties. Foz’s company, a partnership with state-owned Damascus Cham PJSC, was awarded the rights to build three skyscrapers and five housing properties as part of a $312 million contact, the Treasury Department said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated in March that more than 500,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past eight years during the country’s civil war.