The Times reports Assad regime asset collection “an uphill struggle” after US Court ruling

BCL partner, John Binns talks to The Times about the difficult process of collecting assets from the Assad regime after the family of murdered journalist, Marie Colvin were awarded $302 million in damages.

Marie Colvin died while covering the siege of Homs in Syria, deliberately targeted by Syrian military artillery, a US court has ruled. The judgment yesterday will form the grounds for a legal claim to seize assets belonging to Syria.

Now her family will begin the process of identifying and eventually collecting assets held across the world and by many different individuals and entities, raising issues of the current legal ownership of these assets.

Below is an excerpt from The Times article.

‘John Binns, a partner at BCL solicitors, said: “This could be a bit of an uphill struggle. The assets are belonging to a huge number of Syrian individuals and entities, but this judgment is against the Syrian state rather than them. So the first hurdle is establishing who holds the assets.”

Mr Binns said that EU sanction laws, under which some of the assets are frozen, did not give British or EU authorities control over them. He argued: “So it will not necessarily be possible to ensure that any Syrian assets frozen here are used to satisfy this judgment.” The Colvin family could ask for the US ruling to be accepted by an English court in a process called summary judgment.’

John Binns is a partner at BCL specialising in all aspects of business crime, with a particular interest in confiscation, civil recovery and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”). He has particular expertise in the myriad legal provisions on anti-money laundering (“AML”) requirements in the regulated sector under the Money Laundering Regulations (“MLR”), civil recovery and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, and criminal offences of money laundering under POCA, as well as related areas such as financial sanctions. He advises businesses (inside and outside the regulated sector) on AML policies and procedures generally, as well as particular risks that may arise under the MLR, POCA, and sanctions laws, including advice on the submission of Suspicious Activity Reports and consent requests. He regularly represents individuals and businesses in connection with confiscation, property freezing and restraint orders, including in relation to applications to defend, discharge or vary such orders.

*This article was first published by The Times on 1st February 2019. Read the full article here.