Syria’s government has taken action regarding customs violations perpetrated by an alleged facilitator of Iranian arms deliveries and his Beirut-based firm.
On December 19, Syria’s General Directorate of Customs ordered a preliminary assets freeze on Yasser Abbas, Khaled Taqi, and three companies — including the Lebanon-registered Young King SAL Off Shore — for customs violations, according to a copy of the order posted by Q Street Journal.
Abbas, a 41-year old Syrian businessman, was sanctioned by the US in September 2018 for allegedly facilitating “oil and weapons imports on behalf of the Syrian regime.”
The US Treasury added that he was involved “in the shipment of goods and military equipment from Iran to Syria on behalf of Syrian Air Force Intelligence and the Army Supply Bureau of the Syrian Ministry of Defense.”
Abbas has also allegedly played a prominent role in Syria’s oil imports, with the Treasury saying that “as of 2017, Syria’s Ministry of Petroleum allocated all oil import contracts” to the Syrian businessman.
While the Syrian Customs order did not explain the nature of the customs violation, Young King SAL Off Shore, Abbas and Taqi previously ran afoul of Syrian authorities for illicitly moving gas into Syria.
In early 2016, Syria’s Central Authority for the Supervision and Inspection slapped a preliminary asset freeze against the Lebanon-based company and Syrian businessmen for not declaring with Customs over 24 thousand tons of gas they moved into the country between 2013 and 2014, according to business journal Al-Iqtisadi.
The newspaper of Syria’s ruling party, Al-Baath, reported in 2014 that Young King SAL Offshore and another Lebanon-registered company, Abar Petroleum Service SAL, contracted with the state-run Mahrukat fuel distribution company to provide gas.
The same day Syrian Customs issued the asset freeze on Young King SAL Offshore, it ordered a similar measure against Abar Petroleum Service SAL and business kingpin Rami Makhlouf. Levant Networks analyzed this action, showing the links between Makhlouf and the Beirut-based firm.
Lebanon’s online corporate register shows that Young King SAL Off Shore’s shares are held by Abbas and Taqi as well as their relatives. The December 19 assets freeze against Young King SAL Off Shore also targeted Top Business, a company outside Damascus that is co-owned by Abbas, Taqi and Mohammad Salim Orabi Bashi.