EU Sanctions Companies Named in OCCRP Syrian Phosphate Investigation

Published: 27 April 2023

Tartus SyriaTartus, sea-side. (Photo: Dosseman, Wikimedia, License)

By Lara Dihmis

The European Union imposed this week sanctions on 25 individuals and eight companies for supporting the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

Among those designated were Gennady Timchenko's Stroytransgaz, the Syrian state-owned company Gecopham, as well as STG-Logistics and STG-Engineering, two Russian entities operating in Syria that had signed contracts with Assad's government to manage the port of Tartus and invest in phosphate mines in the Palmyra desert.

All four of these companies were the subject of an OCCRP investigation published last year, which uncovered how sanctioned Syrian phosphate was ending up in the EU despite sanctions.

The trade was enriching Syrian militias and warlords also under sanctions. The story was a collaborative effort between OCCRP, SIRAJ, Lighthouse Reports, and six other media partners.

The investigation revealed that Syrian phosphate is exported through the port of Tartus, which is managed by STG-Engineering, to European countries under the supervision of Sanad Company for Protection and Security Services, a Syrian company owned by Assad-linked businessman Ahmed Khalil and a security official.

In 2018, the Syrian regime granted STG-Logistics a 50-year contract, giving it rights to 70% of sales revenues from Syria's largest phosphate mines, while the rest went to the now EU-sanctioned Gecopham.

The latter has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury since 2020.

In its press release, the EU Council stated that these companies were sanctioned for "providing support to the regime" and that because the Syrian regime "continues to pursue its policy of repression," it is "necessary to maintain and ensure the effectiveness of the restrictive measures in place by further developing them."