On July 29, 2020, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of State sanctioned four Syrian individuals and ten entities. The OFAC designations focus on a key supporter of Syrian President Basher al-Assad for “enriching the Syrian regime through construction of luxury real estate” and for actively supporting the reconstruction efforts of President al-Assad. In making the announcement, Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated, “While corrupt businessmen with ties to Assad invest in luxury real estate made possible by forced displacement of innocent civilians, they also worsen the oppression of the Syrian people.” Concurrent with OFAC’s actions, the State Department designated three persons and the First Division of the Syrian Arab Army for obstructing, disrupting or preventing a ceasefire in the ongoing Syrian conflict. In announcing these designations, Secretary Mike Pompeo stated, “The Assad regime’s military has become a symbol of brutality, repression, and corruption. They have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, detained and tortured peaceful protesters, and destroyed schools, hospitals, and markets without regard to human life.”

OFAC designated Wassim Anwar Al-Qattan, a Syrian businessman who holds several contracts with the Government of Syria to develop government-owned shopping malls and hotel properties who, according to the Treasury Department, has been award the majority of recent major real estate projects in the area around Damascus. In addition, the following entities related to Al-Quattan have been sanctioned: (1) Adam Trading And Investment LLC; (2) Al-Jalaa Hotel; (3) Intersection LLC; (4) Larosa Furniture; (5) Massa Plaza Mall; (6) Muruj Cham Investment And Tourism Group; (7) Qasioun Mall; (8) Wassim Kattan LLC; (9) Yalbagha Complex. The State Department designated: (1) Major General Zuhair Tawfiq al-Assad, (2) Zuhair Tawfiq al Assad’s son, Karam al-Assad, (3) President al-Assad’s son, Hafez al-Assad, and (4) the First Division of the Syrian Arab Army.

As a result of this action, these persons and entities have been placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List and all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC has indicated that any non-U.S. persons that engage in certain transactions with these designated persons may also be exposed to sanctions including designation on the SDN List. In a brief press statement, the White House stated that these designations “underscore the Administration’s simple but firm position that no individual or entity should enter into business with or otherwise enrich such a vile regime.”