A UK based private equity firm was considering a commercial relationship with a Swiss investment company. The client instructed Stroz Friedberg to conduct due diligence research into the company and its owner, a Swiss national of Syrian descent. The client was specifically interested in any reputational or regulatory issues that could have had a bearing on its potential relationship with the Swiss firm.
Stroz Friedberg completed a detailed review of publicly available information relating to the subjects. This phase of our research identified Arabic-language media articles linking the owner of the subject company to President Assad of Syria and his incumbent regime. Specifically, the articles alleged that the owner had commercial ties to President Assad.
In response to these allegations, we reached out to our network of on-the-ground contacts in Syria. We also spoke to a number of prominent members of the Syrian diaspora in Switzerland. Most of our contacts rejected, and expressed surprise at, any suggestion that the owner maintained business links to the Syrian regime. Indeed, he and his company were portrayed in positive terms by our sources in Switzerland and the Middle East.
Given the information revealed by Stroz Friedberg’s investigation, the client made the decision to proceed with the next stage in their transaction.