SPANISH cops have begun a raid on properties in Marbella and Puerto Banus belonging to the family of Syrian president Bashar Al-Asad.
It comes after judge Jose de la Mata launched the operation for alleged crimes of money laundering committed by a criminal organisation.
Some 15 properties in Marbella and Puerto Banus are to be raided while the accounts of 16 people have been frozen.
A total of 76 companies have also had their accounts frozen.
Some €300 million is believed to have been looted from Syria’s coffers by Rifaat El Asad, the uncle of the current president of Syria, when he was exiled in the 1980s.
Rifaat and his relatives are believed to have used some of the funds to buy around 503 properties, including garages, holiday homes, luxury hotel apartments, country estates and more.
Almost all of the properties are said to be in the Marbella and Puerto Banus area.
This includes a farm called La Maquina, worth €60 million and more than 3,000 hectares large, it occupies a third of the town of Benahavis.
The total market value of all the family’s properties in Spain is reported to be a whopping €691 million.
The police operation, named SCAR, is being carried out by the Anti-Organized Crime Team of the Malaga Commandant under the Central Operative Unit.
There have yet to be any arrests, but investigators have been keeping track of the family and counting up their properties for months.
Rifaat’s brother expelled him from Syria in the 80s because he feared he was organising a political coup.
There is evidence to suggest Rifaat made off with €300 million before moving to France to invest in real estate.
French authorities concluded that the properties bought up in France, Curacao, Lichenstein and Luxembourg were purchased from embezzlement of public funds and to the detriment of the Syrian state.
Rifaat moved on from France to the Costa del Sol, where he began buying up assets in and around Marbella.
Just last year, French courts charged him with a cover-up of public money diversion, money laundering and involvement with organised crime.
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