Middle East

EU freezes assets of firms for supplying oil to Syria

BRUSSELS: The European Union Wednesday froze the assets of two oil-trading firms accused of organizing covert shipments of oil to Syria.

They were among nine organizations and three people added to the EU’s Syria sanctions list, published in the bloc’s Official Journal. Also listed were branches of the Syrian Defense Ministry.

The two oil-trading firms were Beirut-based Oceans Petroleum Trading, also called Overseas Petroleum Trading or Overseas Petroleum Co., and Tri Oceans Trading, an Egyptian firm. Their assets in the 28-nation EU will be frozen.

Both are accused of “providing support to the Syrian regime and benefiting from the regime by organizing covert shipments of oil to the Syrian regime,” it said.

Damascus relies on strategic ally Iran as its main supplier of crude oil. But the examination of the documents showed that millions of barrels of crude delivered to Assad’s government on Iranian ships has actually come from Iraq, through Lebanese and Egyptian trading companies.

State-owned Syrian refining companies put on the sanctions list were Baniyas Refinery Co. and the Homs Refinery Co. The EU accuses them of providing financial support to the government.

Hashim Anwar Aqqad, a Syrian businessman and chairman of the Akkad Group of companies, was added to the list as well. The group operates in various sectors, including oil and gas. Aqqad is alleged to have provided support to and to benefited from the Syrian government.

Also added were a military commander, Col. Suhail Hasan, and Amr Armanazi, head of a Syrian scientific center the EU said had helped the Syrian army acquire equipment used for “surveillance and repression of demonstrators.” They’re also banned from entering the EU.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 24, 2014, on page 8.




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