The following is an English-language version of Levant Network research prepared for Akhbar Alaan.
A minister in Syria’s new cabinet, who is sanctioned by the EU, has business interests in an offshore firm registered in Lebanon, according to an investigation prepared by Lebant Networks for Akhbar Alaan.
On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree forming a new Syrian council of ministers, which re-appointed Hussein Makhlouf as Local Administration and Environment Minister.
Hussein Makhlouf was sanctioned by the EU in November 2016, four months after he first became the Minister of Local Administration.
According to the EU, Hussein Makhlouf is a cousin of Rami Makhlouf, a prominent regime figure who lost control of his business empire in the past year due to differences with Assad.
Lebanese corporate records reviewed by Levant Networks reveal Hussein Makhlouf’s links to Suriana for Trading and Contracting Offshore SAL, which was founded in Beirut in 2005.
According to Lebanon’s online corporate register, Hussein Makhlouf owns 99.99% of the firm, which he co-founded, and serves as its chairman.
The company is active in the construction sector in Syria, with projects including contracting work for the Syrian International University for Science and Technology.
In March 2019, Syriana for Trading and Contracting Offshore advertised jobs for its projects in Syria, including a vacancy for a planning engineer for a SyriaTel contract.
Hussein Makhlouf’s cousin Rami controlled SyriaTel until May 2020, when the Syrian regime moved to strip the businessman of his commercial assets.
Hussein Makhlouf, who was born in 1964 in Latakia, has professional experience in the construction sector.
He graduated from Tishreen University in 1987 after which he undertook engineering work, including for the project to expand the Latakia port between 1989 and 1990.
Syria’s state SANA news agency notes that Hussein Makhlouf held high-ranking posts in government-operated construction and infrastructure agencies before becoming the governor of Rif Dimashq in October 2011.