* Worldwide freeze order on Akhras's assets
* ADM's lawyers taking steps to enforce jail term
* Akhras based in Beirut
By David Brough
LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - Britain's High Court has ordered a 12 month jail term for a Syrian businessman, Tarif Akhras, for contempt of court due to breach of contract in a deal with Archer Daniels Midland for food imports to Syria.
Akhras, a relative of the wife of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, had failed to pay $26 million to ADM for corn and soybeans supplied by the commodities house for import to Syria in 2011, according to ADM's lawyers.
Under five separate contracts with the Tarif Akhras Group, the foodstuffs were shipped to Syrian port Tartous on two vessels, they added.
Akhras, a Beirut resident and a well known commodities trader, had recently paid $2 million of the debt.
"We now have this order in place, and we are taking steps to enforce it," said Christopher Swart, partner for London lawyers Holman Fenwick Willan acting for ADM, referring to the jail order dated April 11.
Legal representatives of Akhras could not immediately be reached for comment.
ADM sold the foodstuffs to the Tarif Akhras Group before imposition of EU and Swiss sanctions against Akhras for giving support to Syrian authorities.
In October lawyers for Holman Fenwick Willan won a worldwide freezing order against Akhras, in relation to the outstanding payment.
The freezing order prohibited Akhras of disposing of his assets worldwide up to the value of $26 million.
The prohibition includes Akhras's interests in a number of Syrian companies in which he is associated and is believed to trade, including Al Fagir for Trade Co, Tarif Akhras and Partners, and Middle East Factories Co.
(Reporting by David Brough; Editing by William Hardy)
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