WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating senior Houthi military officer Saleh Mesfer Alshaer, commander of the Houthi-controlled military logistics support organization, whom Houthi-controlled courts have designated as the “judicial custodian” of assets confiscated from opponents of the Houthis. Alshaer has overseen the Houthis’ seizure of property in Yemen valued at greater than 100 million dollars, using a variety of unlawful tactics, including extortion. This campaign of extortion, which was used to fund the Houthi military effort, is yet another example of Houthi actions fueling instability and increasing the already extraordinary suffering of the Yemeni people. Like the continuing Houthi offensive against Marib, where millions of Yemenis displaced by years of war have fled for refuge, these actions contribute to the severity of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
“Saleh Mesfer Alshaer is the principal Houthi military officer responsible for pilfering assets from Yemeni citizens and directing a campaign of seizures that further prolongs the ongoing conflict in Yemen by obstructing its resolution,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki. “The United States remains committed to exposing those who seek to exacerbate the crisis in Yemen by denying them access to the global financial system.”
Today’s action is being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13611, which blocks property of persons threatening the peace, security, or stability of Yemen. The United States is taking this action in support of Alshaer’s designation by the United Nations Security Council’s Yemen Sanctions Committee.
Basis for Designation
Major General Saleh Mesfer Alshaer, a close ally of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, serves as both the commander of the Houthi-controlled military logistics support organization, where he assisted the Houthis in acquiring smuggled weapons, as well as the officer responsible for managing all assets and funds confiscated by the Houthis. Alshaer has confiscated assets from Yemeni citizens by extorting and detaining those who do not comply. Alshaer has unlawfully forced banks, companies, and money exchange businesses to perform actions such as withdrawals and identification of customer assets. Those who have defied Alshaer have been detained and held indefinitely by the Houthi-controlled “National Security Bureau” and have been falsely labeled as spies.
During the first seven months of 2019, Alshaer oversaw the seizure of dozens of companies affiliated with anti-Houthi figures residing abroad, with assets valued at more than 100 million dollars. Alshaer oversaw the diversion and confiscation of funds from 35 Yemeni parliamentarians who were not aligned with the Houthis, which was ordered by the Houthi-controlled Specialized Criminal Court on September 14, 2019. These confiscated funds included revenues from projects funded by international organizations inside Yemen. Alshaer’s cronies have also intervened in multiple hospitals in the capital, Sana’a, replacing directors and staff, and appropriating more than half of those revenues. This pattern of coercion and extortion is intended to benefit only one group — the Houthis — and it demonstrates that they are engaged in the same types of activities they blame on their opponents.
Saleh Mesfer Alshaer is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13611 for having engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provides for a peaceful transition of power in Yemen, or that obstruct the political process in Yemen. The United States is taking this action in support of Alshaer’s designation by the UN Security Council’s Yemen Sanctions Committee on November 9, 2021.
As a result of today’s actions, all property and interests in property of the person designated that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.