Middle East & North Africa Search Tips

Sayari Graph contains public records from around the world, including some of the most opaque jurisdictions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Many of these records provide key personally identifiable information (PII) that can be used to track individuals and companies across the region. 

This guide provides tips on how to search MENA public records in Sayari Graph using PII to enhance your investigation.

OFAC sanctions Gibran Bassil

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Gibran Bassil, a high-ranking Lebanese politician, on Nov. 6, 2020. Bassil used corrupt practices to enrich himself and his friends at the expense of the Lebanese state, according to OFAC.

When OFAC sanctions individuals in MENA they often provide PII, including native aliases, nationalities, dates of birth (DOB), and places of birth (POB). In the section below we will take you through the steps to successfully search Sayari Graph’s MENA public records using PII linked to an investigative subject, in this case Gibran Bassil.

Using PII to search MENA public records

OFAC provides Bassil’s DOB, nationality, and Arabic alias. Using Sayari Graph’s advanced search feature we can use this information to confirm Bassil’s existence in the Lebanese voter rolls.

Fig. 1: A screenshot from Sayari Graph showing an advanced search query (outlined in red) using PII from OFAC.

The first result provides Bassil’s full Arabic name (جبران جرجي باسیل) and DOB in the Lebanese voter rolls, which confirms he is the sanctioned Gibran Jerji Bassil. Moreover, the voter rolls provide the POB of every Lebanese citizen. The listed POB for Bassil is Batroun, Northern Governante, which matches the OFAC-provided POB. Non-Arabic readers can use the Google Translate API to navigate the Arabic search results. Note that Arabic names can be transliterated multiple different ways, but translations will usually be within a 1-2 letter difference of each other (i.e. Gibran/Gebran/Jebran or Bassil/Basil/Bassel).

Fig. 2: A screenshot from Sayari Graph showing the Google Translate API feature.

Finding Bassil and siblings on corporate records

Using Arabic naming conventions we can conclude that Bassil’s father’s name is Jerji (جرجي) and therefore his siblings will share the same middle and last name. If we search again in Sayari Graph using only Bassil’s full name, several results in the Lebanese corporate register appear. The first company, Aamar Engineering and Construction, lists a Gebran Jerji Bassil (with a matching Arabic alias) and someone that is most likely his sibling — Jessie Jerji Bassil. We can be confident that this is the same Gibran Bassil due to the uniqueness of his name and the fact that there is only one Gebran Jerji Bassil in the Lebanese voter rolls.

Fig. 3: A screenshot from Sayari Graph showing Bassil and his likely sibling listed in the Lebanon Corporate Register.

Searching for Arab individuals globally

Although Bassil resides and operates in Lebanon, Arabic naming conventions are consistent inside and outside MENA with few exceptions. Public records from many jurisdictions, both Arabic- and English-speaking, often provide some level of PII and can be utilized in a similar way. Moreover, analysts can apply these techniques to all types of investigations, not only those pertaining to sanctions. 

Analysts have used Sayari Graph’s search functionality, Arabic naming conventions, and PII from OFAC to track familial networks across MENA, including in Jordan, Iraq, UAE, and occasionally linked them to jurisdictions outside of MENA, such as the UK and Venezuela.

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