UAE checks for Syria funds after sanctions
Dubai, July 7, 2012
The UAE central bank has asked lenders and financial institutions in the state to start an investigation into any funds or investments by top Syrian officials, a local newspaper reported on Friday.
The central bank called for an immediate 'search for any accounts, deposits or investments' owned by the persons and institutions in question and for the central bank to be informed of 'any credit facilities, safe deposit boxes or financial transfers', according to the Khaleej Times.
Officials at the central bank were not immediately available for comment on Friday, the start of the weekend in the UAE.
Dubai has been regarded as a regional safe haven for wealth. Since the outbreak of Arab Spring revolts against repressive rulers began 18 months ago, funds from across Middle East have been shifted to Dubai banks and tucked away in areas such as real estate.
Iran, which backs Assad's government, is under international sanctions as well due to its controversial nuclear programme.
In May, the EU froze the assets or imposed travel bans on more than 120 senior Syrian officials in an effort to isolate Assad's government and press it to carry out a ceasefire and political transition plan drawn up by a UN-Arab League envoy.
The US has frozen Syrian assets and banned its businesses from dealings with Syria, adding to broader measures against Syria which had been in place since 2004.
Arab League states last November also decided on the economic sanctions against Syria, the toughest ever on a member state. They included a suspension of dealings with the Syrian central bank and its state-owned Commercial Bank, and of trade agreements and bank transactions.
Iraq and Lebanon, neighbours of Syria which have sensitive sectarian, strategic and trade relationships with Damascus, have declined to join the League's sanctions campaign.
Jordan, another neighbour, has been reluctant to carry out the sanctions out of concern for damage to its economy.-Reuters