Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Pro-Assad Syrian businessman in Kuwait accused of money laundering

Local media reports a raid on his offices shows evidence against the media mogul

An image of Syria's President Bashar Al Assad on a car's windscreen as Hezbollah supporters celebrate. Reuters
An image of Syria's President Bashar Al Assad on a car's windscreen as Hezbollah supporters celebrate. Reuters

A prominent Syrian businessman with close ties to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been arrested in Kuwait along with five of his assistants on charges of money laundering, local media reported on Wednesday.

Mazen Al Tarazi was arrested late on Monday in his offices at the Al Hadaf magazine headquarters, following investigations that including “collusion and spying with the Lebanese group Hezbollah,” Al Qabas daily said.

According to the newspaper, citing unnamed sources, Mr Al Tazari denied charges but a mounting body of evidence collected from electronic devices and documents confiscated from his office reportedly incriminate the Syrian man.

Mr Al Tazari has been living in Kuwait for several years where he owns a large advertising company, as well as several firms in Syria.

He also launched a campaign encouraging Syrian refugees to return to Syria shortly after the civil war broke out.

He is known for his support of Mr Al Assad's regime and has participated in demonstrations in front of the White House in Washington in support of the Syrian government.

Local authorities did not immediately release the charges against Mr Al Tarazi.

A longtime resident of Kuwait, Mr Al Tarazi owns a publishing and advertising firm in partnership with a high-profile local businessman, Ahmad Al Jarallah.

Mr Jarallah confirmed to AFP that police had raided his offices on Monday night and arrested Mr Al Tarazi's secretary and two Al Hadaf magazine employees.

Mr Al Tarazi is on an EU blacklist of Syrian nationals who have been banned from entry to European states and whose assets have been frozen over their role in the Syria war.

Kuwait has grown increasingly intolerant of Hezbollah activities within the country.

After the discovery of a Hezbollah terror cell in the country in 2017, Kuwait filed a complaint to the Lebanese government on July 22, saying that the country “must take the necessary measures to deter Hezbollah’s acts given that it’s a member of the Lebanese government.”

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s party leader in Lebanon, has since denied his party’s involvement saying that they have no cells operating in Kuwait.

Updated: March 20, 2019 06:17 PM

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