Sudanese businessman Abdelbasit Hamza, who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for his role in financing Hamas and his relationship with Osama bin Laden, appears to maintain a large network of business interests in Europe despite the sanctions, a recent investigation shows.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Israeli news outlet Shomrim have uncovered details of Hamza’s portfolio of businesses in Europe and his stake in a lucrative Cyprus firm that mines Egyptian gold.
The ICIJ reported on Wednesday that leaked documents reveal Hamza’s longstanding ownership interest in the Cyprus holding company in partnership with a Swiss firm, and that the company’s assets totalled roughly $35 million as of 2018.
“The files come from the Cyprus Confidential leak, a trove of more than 3.6 million documents analyzed by ICIJ and 68 media partners, including Shomrim, as part of a recent global investigation.”
Hamza was sanctioned by Washington on October 18 for managing investments for the Palestinian Hamas organisation and for his involvement in the transfer of almost $20 million to Hamas.
CNN stated yesterday that the examined documents show that Hamza’s business deals span two decades and include a Cypriot company, a Spanish real estate company, an Egyptian gold company, and a Sudan-based company.
Hamza has not been sanctioned by the European Union.
The businessman, an ally of ousted President Omar Al Bashir, was arrested in Sudan following the ousting of Al Bashir in 2019.
The Sudanese Anti-Corruption Committee* announced in April 2020 that it confiscated 79 real estate properties illegally acquired by leading members of the country’s Islamic movement during the regime of Al Bashir.
Hamza came at the top of the list. Six plots of nearly 1,500 hectares belonging to his Dongola Ergin Road Company in Northern State were seized, more than one million acres of agricultural lands, the Friendship Palace Hotel, and the surrounding area in Khartoum, as well as land in other parts of the capital. His network of global assets was estimated as worth more than $2 billion.
The Islamist businessman was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for crimes including fraud, corruption, and dealing with Hamas funds. He was released in June 2021. He himself said that he was a political prisoner in Sudan and was released because he was innocent.
He denies financing Hamas and having had ties to Osama bin Laden.
* The committee’s full name is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds. It was established in November 2019 by the government of Abdallah Hamdok with the aim to purge the country of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. The work of the ERC was suspended, and several members were detained following the October 2021 coup d’état. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges.