The Assad regime is still on the European Commission’s blacklist of nations it considers a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the EU executive said on Wednesday.
Criteria used to blacklist countries include weak sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency about the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
The commission said it added jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes.”
The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks. Syria was ranked the least free country in the world on the 2019 Freedom House’s index of freedom.
The European Union last month announced it was imposing new sanctions on Syrian businessmen and companies directly linked to the Assad regime, including a close associate of the regime.
The EU said its leaders met in Brussels and agreed to expand the list of sanctions against the Assad regime by adding 11 Syrian businessmen and five entities linked to the regime to the sanctions list.
In 2017, the European Union imposed similar sanctions on senior Assad regime officials in response to their involvement in the chemical weapons program.
The EU began imposing sanctions on high-ranking Assad regime officials, including Bashar al-Assad and members of his family following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011 as well as on companies dealing with the regime.
The EU sanctions on the Assad regime, which were consistently strengthened between 2011 and 2014, are one of the toughest sanctions in the EU history. They include a ban on almost all forms of trade with the Assad regime, especially in the oil sector and petroleum products. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)