Fraud and hostage-taking: Al-Zein clan boss convicted - villa confiscated

For years, members of the Al-Zein clan have been collecting social benefits.

Fraud and hostage-taking: Al-Zein clan boss convicted - villa confiscated

For years, members of the Al-Zein clan have been collecting social benefits. Among other things, they use part of the money to finance a villa. At the same time, the clan constantly had six-digit cash amounts. A year and a half after a large-scale raid, the verdict is now in.

The head of the Lebanese Al-Zein clan from Leverkusen has been sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping and gang-related social fraud. At the trial in Düsseldorf, two of his sons were each sentenced to three years in prison for dangerous bodily harm and commercial and gang fraud. The district court ordered that the 1,700-square-meter property with the family's property in Leverkusen be confiscated. The wife of the head of the family was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and another son to one year and nine months' imprisonment, both of which were suspended. In addition to a sum of money of 406,000 euros, the villa is also to be confiscated. The verdict is not yet legally binding. According to a court spokeswoman, the proceedings against two of the accused have now been suspended subject to conditions.

The accused were guilty of "multiple crimes," said the presiding judge. The verdict was preceded by a criminal agreement in the course of which the accused had confessed. Their membership in the extended family or clan did not have an aggravating effect, but the gang and commercial commission of the fraud did, the judge said. For example, they caused the Leverkusen job center to pay out a total of 462,000 euros in social assistance and health insurance contributions for family members with incorrect or omitted information.

Despite considerable wealth, the family members - the family's financial pot would have always contained between 100,000 and 300,000 euros - received social benefits from the job center for more than six years until the end of June 2021. The job center paid the family of ten almost 5,200 euros from tax money every month. The family also used the money to repay the loan for their property with 300 square meters of living space in Leverkusen, for which they had registered several communities of need.

In addition, family members picked up a man on the street and beat him up in the soundproof back room of a shisha bar, believed to be a recording studio, and threatened to kill him in order to get him to reveal certain information. Another victim was beaten and kicked while still lying on the ground. His nasal bone was smashed with a vegetable box.

"With income from criminal offenses, the accused have accumulated considerable wealth," the prosecutor said at the start of the trial six months ago. "They wore Rolex watches and drove Mercedes S-Class." But the accused acts of extortion from protection money were not reflected in the verdict.

The defense attorneys had demanded mild penalties for social fraud because the job center had made it very easy for their clients. The low-threshold access to the social system for people with a low level of education is politically desired. The criminal court also thinks it is correct, the judge emphasized. No lesser guilt can be derived from this.

The court mitigated the sentence by the fact that the head of the family, being illiterate, was not able to keep in touch with his family while in custody. He is now free on bail of €80,000.

The police had stormed the house in Leverkusen and searched it, confiscating six-figure sums of cash and luxury watches worth 160,000 euros. The case had caused a nationwide sensation. A total of around 600 police officers were involved in the campaign in 15 NRW cities. Several thousand people are attributed to the Al-Zein clan.

The clan has various offshoots. Those convicted had nothing to do with the big raid and the allegations of car stolen goods last week.