Maltese companies are involved in the smuggling of Libyan resources, violating UN sanctions in the process, a UN panel of experts has confirmed.
The expert analysis was submitted in court amid proceedings concerning fuel smuggling in Malta and Beyond. This case involves Pier-Paul Debono, the brother of Darren Debono. Both have been charged with money laundering linked to fuel smuggling, both have pleaded not guilty.
Neville Aquilian, who chairs the sanctions monitoring board, explained that the expert panel is tasked with overseeing the implementation of sanctions.
He said that the panel believed that Maltese companies were involved in illegal smuggling from Libya. He warned that the dirty money from the operation continues to remain in Malta.
Pier-Paul was not named by the panel. However, Darren, as well as two companies linked to the brothers, ADJ Trading Ltd and World Water Fisheries, were mentioned.
In October 2017, Darren Debono was arrested by Italian police on charges of smuggling fuel from Libyan oil trader Fahmi Ben Khalifa to an Italian merchant, a case which is still ongoing.
Debono has never been charged with fuel smuggling in Malta but in November 2020 he was charged with money laundering along with his friend and former Malta football team-mate Jeffrey Chetcuti, another individual suspected of being a fuel smuggler.
Debono’s stepdaughter Floren Sultana, as well as Albert Buttigieg, were later also charged with money laundering in connection with their respective seafood restaurants – Scoglitti in Valletta and Capo Mulini in Marsaxlokk.
Although numerous media reports suggest the suspects are believed to have laundered the proceeds of fuel smuggling, police have yet to clarify their suspicions of their predicate offences in court.
Author Mark Camilleri has also claimed that Debono was involved in a government covert operation to refuel Russian warships, during an embargo on the country over its actions in Syria. Debono has denied the claims.
Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb are representing Debono.
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