Newspaper: Real estate is the Houthis' way to launder looted money

English - الأربعاء 22 يونيو 2022 الساعة 11:45 ص
Aden, NewsYemen:

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said that the prices of real estate and land have risen in Sanaa to exceed the prices of their counterparts in the countries of the region and even some European countries.  From urban and urban planning, what turned it into a city of slums.

The newspaper stated, in a report, that from time to time, social media pioneers circulate advertisements about the prices of real estate for sale, whether they are lands or buildings, surprising and arrogant about the imaginary prices, exorbitant rents and complex conditions for obtaining them, while a random urban movement expands on the ground without taking into account the simplest  Urban planning terms.

A recent economic report confirmed that the terrorist Houthi militia was active in the real estate sector, in addition to other activities such as money exchange to launder money obtained from looting the revenues and treasuries of state institutions, and seizing the money and businesses of those opposed to them, which pushed real estate prices, which are already high, to rise even more.

The report "The War Economy and the New Rich" recently issued by the Center for Studies and Economic Media (a Yemeni organization) stated that the hands of the militia's powerful and money launderers extended to the real estate sector.  Money laundering led to the emergence of a new class that possesses great liquidity to build and buy real estate at amounts that exceed the real and usual numbers, and the construction process in Sanaa created new neighborhoods and areas.

And the militia leaders went to buy land and real estate buildings that were impossible for businessmen to venture to buy in the time of the state and peace.  As a result of its high costs, according to the reports of the Central Bureau of Statistics for the year 2014.  The total building permits in Sana'a during that period reached 34 permits.

The number of building permits reached in 2017, according to the Central Agency in Sana'a.  to 358 licenses.  According to a source in the Ministry of Works in the Houthi government;  The process of building and construction in Sana'a pushed towards the creation of new neighborhoods and areas.

According to observers;  Besides looting for enrichment.  The militias seek to change the demographics by occupying the vicinity of Sanaa.  And housing its members and supporters of its project in it, and building communities with a sectarian and sectarian identity, after it failed to force the community to support it.

The Houthi leader, Ahmed Hamid, supervises a body affiliated with the Office of the Presidency of the Coup Governing Council, known as the “Housing the Mujahideen” body, and it works secretly to provide housing and real estate for militia members coming from the governorates of Saada and Hajjah.  Purchasing and building villas and buildings for the militia’s senior leaders and securing them with a human environment affiliated with it.

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoted Yemeni economic researcher Abdul Wahed Al-Aubali as saying.  The Houthi militia obtained many sources of revenue.  What is the reason for accumulating money?  The fortunes of its leaders grew at a record speed, and it was necessary to find ways to include it in investment activities without raising suspicions about it, especially with the desire to transfer it abroad to invest and benefit from it.

He continues by saying: “The real estate sector is one of the easiest sectors through which money laundering can be done in Yemen.  Where the Houthis work to buy lands and then sell them at many times their real prices to remove suspicion from the money in their possession.  These operations are repeated several times between brokers with some of the followers and opponents of the Houthi group.  Real estate prices are steadily doubling, which can be described as exaggerated prices.”

According to Al-Obali, a lot of real estate was seized either from state property or from the property of businessmen, politicians and activists fleeing from the militias' oppression.  The militias resorted to selling and trading them at prices that enable them to smuggle and launder money.  Often buying and selling takes place between militia leaders and their businessmen.

Al-Aubali warned investors, businessmen and expatriates against buying real estate in Sana'a or Houthi-controlled areas.  The fact that this sector is subject to collapse and prices have fallen to their real levels or less.  As soon as the war stops or stability occurs, even if relatively.  and development in all countries.  As this will lead to the migration of the population to areas with the most investment opportunities.

He pointed out that real estate prices in Sana'a were higher than their actual value before the Houthi takeover.  Because of corruption and extreme centralization.  Where influential people buy or seize real estate.  Then they trade it through a long chain of brokers, doubling their prices each time.  He stressed that the Houthis came to this situation, and worked to take advantage of it and exacerbate it many times over what it was in the past.

And the impact of these practices on urban planning.  Yemeni engineer Ahmed Al-Madhaji said.  The average population density in the city has risen excessively during the past years due to the acquisition of real estate by the new influencers and their arrival from the countryside and neighboring cities with their families, relatives and companions, in addition to the rewards obtained by the fighters as a result of their participation in the war, by granting them land and real estate in the vicinity of the city according to the same newspaper.

Al-Madhaji drew attention to the absence of statistics on population density, number of buildings, and the schematic criterion used.  And most of the construction work is done without licenses.  With a horizontal expansion that increases randomness and makes it difficult to provide various services.  It eliminates agricultural areas and groundwater.  It complicates the possibility of planning new suburbs in the future.  It reduces the chances of developing service and entertainment projects within the urban blocs.