Niece of Syrian ruler al-Assad loses £25,000 in UK bank account because it breached sanctions law

Niece of Syrian ruler al-Assad loses £25,000 in UK bank account because it breached sanctions law

A member of Syria's ruling family and the niece of President Bashar al-Assad received £150,000 from relatives while studying in London and has been fo

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A member of Syria‘s ruling family and the niece of President Bashar al-Assad received £150,000 from relatives while studying in London and has been forced to give up the contents of her UK bank account.

Investigators found that Aniseh Chawkat, 22, who rented a flat in the capital for more than £60,000 per year, benefited from 56 cash deposits into her Barclays account in 2017 and 2018.

The National Crime Agency found that the payments were made at branches of the bank across England, getting around EU sanctions to restrict the availability of funds from the Syrian regime.

Chawkat’s father Assef Shawkat was Syrian deputy Minister of Defence between 2011 and his death in 2012, and both her mother Bushra al-Assad and uncle, the Syrian President, are subject to international sanctions.

Investigators found that Aniseh Chawkat, 22, (pictured with brother and sister Bassel and Beshui) benefited from 56 cash deposits into her Barclays account in 2017 and 2018

Investigators found that Aniseh Chawkat, 22, (pictured with brother and sister Bassel and Beshui) benefited from 56 cash deposits into her Barclays account in 2017 and 2018

Investigators found that Aniseh Chawkat, 22, (pictured with brother and sister Bassel and Beshui) benefited from 56 cash deposits into her Barclays account in 2017 and 2018

Rob MacArthur, from the NCA’s international corruption unit, said: ‘Our investigation also gives some insight into the complexity of tackling illicit finance.

‘Innocuous deposits into UK high street banks can ultimately be derived from wealth accumulated by individuals subject to international sanctions.’

Chawkat’s UK bank account, that contained £24,668.24, was frozen in November 2018 and on Tuesday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court the NCA’s application for her to forfeit the money was not opposed.

 

Aniseh Chawkat's father Assef Shawkat (top left with her mother Bushra  was Syrian deputy Minister of Defence between 2011 and his death in 2012, and she is the niece of President Bashar al-Assad. Bushra and Bashar al-Assad are both subject to international sanctions

Aniseh Chawkat's father Assef Shawkat (top left with her mother Bushra  was Syrian deputy Minister of Defence between 2011 and his death in 2012, and she is the niece of President Bashar al-Assad. Bushra and Bashar al-Assad are both subject to international sanctions

Aniseh Chawkat’s father Assef Shawkat (top left with her mother Bushra  was Syrian deputy Minister of Defence between 2011 and his death in 2012, and she is the niece of President Bashar al-Assad. Bushra and Bashar al-Assad are both subject to international sanctions

Chawkat's UK bank account, that contained £24,668.24, was frozen in November 2018

Chawkat's UK bank account, that contained £24,668.24, was frozen in November 2018

Chawkat’s UK bank account, that contained £24,668.24, was frozen in November 2018

The niece of President Bashar al-Assad received £150,000 from relatives while studying in London

The niece of President Bashar al-Assad received £150,000 from relatives while studying in London

The niece of President Bashar al-Assad received £150,000 from relatives while studying in London 

She was not personally accused of any wrongdoing.

Rachael Herbert, NCA head of threat response, said: ‘Contravention of sanctions undermines the integrity of the UK financial system.

‘The sum in this instance may not be vast, but our identification and pursuit of it underlines our commitment to supporting wider UK efforts against sanctions evasion.’

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘We have worked with and supported the NCA with this investigation and welcome the outcome of these proceedings.’

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