Nizar Ali Ismail, the head of the Economic and Financial Criminal Court in Damascus, has disclosed that the court is currently trying former officials, in various corruption cases. These cases encompass allegations of bribery, theft, and embezzlement of public funds. Notably, the court is applying strict measures, particularly when dealing with bribery cases that violate employment laws, as reported by the pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper.
Ismail emphasized that the court is handling numerous financial cases related to the illegal transfer of currencies between Syria and foreign countries. This constitutes the crime of engaging in unlicensed currency exchange and dealing in non-Syrian currency. He noted that these illegal transfers originate from various countries around the world, and there has been a notable increase in such financial cases being brought before the court.
Furthermore, the President of the Economic Criminal Court pointed out that some traders and private institutions resort to illicit methods for currency transfers, bypassing official intermediaries such as banks and licensed exchange companies. As a result, many of these individuals are currently facing legal proceedings, including those who have already received court verdicts in cases related to illegal currency transfers, non-Syrian currency dealings, or practicing unlicensed money exchange.
Ismail clarified that the court distinguishes between the civil and criminal aspects of smuggling crimes. The civil aspect falls under the jurisdiction of the customs court, while the criminal aspect is addressed by the criminal court. In cases of smuggling, the court may release the detainee if the accused reaches a settlement with the relevant authorities, without requiring bail. This settlement contract serves as a legal mitigating factor, leading to a one-third reduction in the penalty.
In August, lawyer Bashir Bodour highlighted the overwhelming caseload of financial cases in Damascus courts, particularly those involving commodity debts and old debts affected by the devaluation of the Syrian pound. He explained that the estimation of the adjusted amounts due to inflation is at the discretion of the judge. Some debts have supporting documents, such as trust bonds or property transactions, while others lack documentation and were granted based on personal relationships or neighbourly connections. This lack of documentation poses a significant challenge in resolving these financial disputes.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.