France probes Assad’s uncle’s fortune following corruption claims

Real estate holdings of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad's uncle are to be investigated after watchdogs accuse him of corruption.

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PARIS // The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the real estate holdings of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad’s uncle after international watchdogs accused him of corruption.

Sherpa and Transparency International filed a complaint earlier this month, alleging that Rifaat Assad was worth several million euros and that the sum was far beyond what he earned as a Syrian military commander or as the country’s vice president. The complaint alleges that this fortune, including several dozen Paris apartments and a luxurious townhouse, was built by stealing from Syrian public funds and by abusing his power.

The prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation on Monday.

In 2011, Rifaat Assad told The Associated Press that he had lost all his money in the stock market and lived off the largesse of his children.

* Associated Press