News Business Crime & Financial Services 22nd May 2019

Zubair Ahmad QC Represents Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Niece in National Crime Agency Investigation into Breaches of the Syria Sanctions

Following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into breaches of the Syria Sanctions – the niece of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – 22 year old Aniseh Chawkat (AC), has forfeited funds held in her UK Barclays bank account.  AC has been residing in London since 2014 when she was granted a student visa by the Home Office.  During this time AC completed her undergraduate degree and in October 2018 commenced postgraduate study which she has been able to continue during the NCA investigation.

The NCA obtained an Account Freezing Order (s303Z3 POCA 2002) in November 2018 after informing Barclays bank that AC’s mother, Bushra al-Assad and her uncle, Bashar al-Assad, were designated persons subject to the Syria Sanctions: The Syria (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2012.

This week the NCA applied for an Account Forfeiture Order (s303Z14 POCA 2002) on the basis that an informal value transfer system had been used which had the effect of circumventing the Syria Sanctions designed to restrict the use and availability of Syrian regime funds.

Zubair Ahmad QC represented AC on both the civil and criminal aspects of the NCA investigation.  He said that AC does not oppose the making of an Account Forfeiture Order and maintains that she had no knowledge or suspicion that the funds were recoverable property.  She has not been accused of any wrongdoing and there is no evidence to suggest criminal conduct on her part.  AC has assisted the NCA investigation.

To read about the case in the national press, please follow the below links:

The Times | The Standard

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