Assad’s wealthy cousin in
shady business with Israeli

Israeli businessman Freddy Zinger acted as an offshore business proxy for Rami Makhlouf and other members of the Syrian ruling family.

Rami Makhlouf. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

BEIRUT – A treasure trove of documents leaked from multinational bank HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary have revealed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s powerful cousin Rami Makhlouf was involved in shady business dealings with an Israeli national.


Alaraby Aljadeed on Wednesday published a two page expose of the Makhlouf family’s business empire after a lengthy inquiry based on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) 2015 “Swiss Leaks” investigation of documents handed over by whistleblower Herve Falciani.


In February, the ICIJ revealed that Rami Makhlouf—the richest man in Syria and Bashar al-Assad’s maternal cousin—had “at least 18 bank accounts connected to 14 client accounts,” according to his individual HSBC file.


Although ICIJ did not release the relevant documents, Alaraby Aljadeed acquired them through the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) network, allowing the daily to piece together parts of the Makhlouf family’s shady offshore financial dealings.


After issuing a formal request to the governmental authorities in the British Virgin Islands, in cooperation with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the London-based daily was able to acquire the registration documents of five offshore companies that the HSBC leaks show are owned by members of the Makhlouf family.


“The documents reveal five secret companies held in the names of Makhlouf family members—the father Mohammad, and his sons, Rami, Hafez, Iyad and Ihab,” the paper reported.


“They also reveal several partners and persons hired as fronts, known as proxies, in the administration of these companies.”


“These personalities include Israeli businessman Freddy Zinger. Other non-Syrian and Syrian personalities [were hired] to run these companies in European states and Canada, and keep the true owners behind the scenes.”


Israeli businessman’s involvement


The Swiss Leaks files and the official documentation for the companies in the British Virgin Islands reveal the involvement of Israeli businessman Freddy Zinger, “who was born in Poland in 1954 and has lived since that date and until now in Israel in the Ra'anana area.”


Syria has been in an official state of war with Israel since the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948, with Damascus banning its citizens from any formal dealings with its arch-foe.


Nevertheless, Zinger appeared as “a delegate who was allowed access to the accounts of security officer Hafez Makhlouf, as well as Rami, Ihab and Iyad,” according to Alaraby Aljadeed.


“The documents also revealed that these four were beneficial owners of the bank account registered in the name of the Israeli Zinger.”


“Zinger, who currently resides in the Kiryat Shmona settlement and runs the Education Support Association in Israel, also owns a number of medical companies that have patented inventions in Israel.”


According to Alaraby Aljadeed, several different spellings of Zinger’s name can be found, including Friddie and Fredy for his first name and Singer for his surname.


These spellings were confirmed “after comparison with other information, such as date of birth, address, CV details and photographs,” the newspaper explained.


Like all the other people connected to the five companies mentioned in the report, Zinger did not respond to e-mails sent by Alaraby Aljadeed, to inquire about his involvement.


The Qatar-owner daily also mentioned that Zinger had served in the Israeli army from 1976 to 1981 in the post of Development Manager and attained the rank of captain.


He also became a shareholder of international drug company West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. when it entered in to a merger with his company MEDIMOP, the report added.

Rami Makhlouf. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

The Swiss Leaks files and the official documentation for the companies in the British Virgin Islands reveal the involvement of Israeli businessman Freddy Zinger.

  • astaris

    And if you're looking for a fancy conspiracy theory, if anyone has kept the Likud in power (obviously) it has been Hamas-Islamic Jihad in Gaza, periodically raining missiles on southern Israel. And the last time I checked they were fanatically Sunni.

    August 19, 2015

  • astaris

    What do you guys drink. Fantasiya Arabiya. You never stop do you. The Israeli economy grows by leaps and bounds, Israeli scientists assemble Nobel Prizes, Israeli start-ups invent Waze, Viber and the disk-on-key, Teva is the largest generic pharma company in the world, Mobileye is worth more than many of the world's banks - and you spend all your time killing each other and inventing Ali Baba stories. And that after Israel has treated hundreds of Syrian wounded (dominantly Sunni) at Israeli hospitals at the huge expense of the Israeli taxpayer. The only regional threat that Israel faces today is Iran and its Shiite-Hizbollah-Alawite surrogates. The Sunni jihadis are all manageable, at least for now.

    August 19, 2015

  • anasd


    August 14, 2015

  • Beiruti

    Israel has been in bed with the Assads from the start. Political and economic. With Hezbollah fighting to keep the Assads in power, the connections that we all knew were there are being exposed. Hezbollah is necessary to the Right Wing Israeli Likud to stay in power. Likud has always come to Hezbollah's aid in Lebanon when it got in trouble. And Hezbollah needs the "Zionist enemy" as a necessary foil to continue to justify itself. And considering the relation of both to Iran, well we can see the line up. Israel-Iran-Hezbollah-Assad on one side and the Sunni on the other. This is the ugly truth.

    August 14, 2015