The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Libya launches huge investigation into oil smuggling to Malta, Italy, Greece and Cyprus

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 31 January 2017, 07:45 Last update: about 4 years ago

Yet again Malta is being mentioned in connection with oil smuggling from Libya as the North African country has just launched the biggest anti-corruption probe since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

The Libya Herald reported yesterday that warrants for the arrest of a number of government ministers have been issued as part of the huge investigation. The report says fuel smuggling from Libya to Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece has cost the country half a billion dollars.

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The anti-corruption efforts, which also includes travel bans against petrol company executives, was announced by Attorney General Sadiq Al-Sour, who is working with the Presidency Council and its Government of National Accord  in Tripoli.

The Libya Herald reported that travel bans have been issued against the chief executives of four fuel distribution companies working with the Tripoli-based Brega Petroleum Marketing Company. They are also under formal investigation.

Mr Al-Sour did not mention which ministers suspected of involvement in corruption have had arrest warrants issued.

Earlier this week the Libyan Attorney General spoke of cooperation with Greek and French police, which had led evidence from previous smuggling cases. “It is likely he will ask Malta, Italy and Cyprus for similar help in what he called ‘mafias’ receiving the smuggled fuel,” the Herald reported.

“The smuggling is typically carried out with small boats or tankers which take refined product – some produced in Libya, some imported – to Europe. Smuggling of crude oil itself is more difficult as it requires refining before it can be sold,” the newspaper said.

The Libyan AG’s action appears to be in cooperation with the chairman of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla, who has called for legal action against smugglers, the Herald reported.

Sanalla has labelled fuel smuggling gangs as terrorists and complained about “thousands of tragic cases that the ordinary desperate Libyan citizen suffers from because of the criminal practices by the gangs who smuggle the subsidised fuel across the borders”.

Oil production in Libya suffered a huge blow as a result of the 2011 revolution and the raging conflict that followed. But since the capture in September of central oil ports by the Libya National Army, loyal to the Tobruk-based parliament, oil production has tripled to about 700,000 barrels per day.

 

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