AMMAN — Amid an ongoing dispute between Rami Makhlouf and his cousin Bashar al-Assad which first came to light this past April, the Syrian businessman has continued, by way of threats, pleas or attempts to garner public support, to reveal companies he owns that were previously unknown to most Syrians. In what can be described as a revelation of massive transgenerational corruption, Makhlouf has continued what his father, Muhammad Makhlouf, started under Hafez al-Assad. 

In Rami Makhlouf’s latest Facebook post, on October 7, he posted pictures of a letter directed to Bashar al-Assad in his capacity as the head of the Supreme Judicial Council. The message revealed the names of 14 companies Makhlouf had lost to parties that he did not identify. 

Despite the widespread belief that Makhlouf controls more than 60 percent of the Syrian economy, the precise number of companies he owns—whether in full or through stocks and shares—remains unknown. Makhlouf has made clear that a number of his companies are registered in others’ names, “in order to avoid foreign sanctions,” while they “in reality belong to the Ramak Company for Development and Humanitarian Projects, Private Holding Company,” according to the letter to Assad. 

Throughout decades of the Assad family’s rule, the Makhlouf name has been tied to the economy, investment and influence. This began with Muhammad Makhlouf, Rami’s father and the brother of Anisa Makhlouf, Hafez al-Assad’s wife. Rami continued his father’s path of plundering, looting and robbing the Syrian economy. His name pops up through his companies in various unrelated fields and sectors, such as: energy, communications, media, clothing, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, real estate, banking, tourism, trade, exclusive franchises and others. 

Rami Makhlouf is known as “Mr. 5%,” a reference to the commission he used to impose on any project in Syria. If not paid, investors faced harassment and obstacles including the project’s forcible seizure. 

The following is an overview of the main sectors in which companies known to belong to Rami Makhlouf are active.

 

The report was originally published in Arabic and translated into English by Mateo Nelson.