The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

Darren Debono and other Maltese listed in US Treasury sanctions

Monday, 26 February 2018, 18:03 Last update: about 3 years ago

Darren Debono and other Maltese persons have been listed by the US Treasury in a new round of sanctions targeting oil smugglers in Libya.

"The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today sanctioned six individuals, 24 entities, and seven vessels pursuant to an Executive Order for threatening the peace, security, or stability of Libya through the illicit production, refining, brokering, sale, purchase, or export of Libyan oil or for being owned or controlled by designated persons.  Oil smuggling undermines Libya's sovereignty, fuels the black market and contributes to further instability in the region while robbing the population of resources that are rightly theirs.  Illicit exploitation of Libyan oil is condemned by United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 2146 (2014) as modified by 2362 (2017).  As a result of today's actions, any property or interest in property of those designated by OFAC within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked.  Additionally, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities owned or controlled by designated persons."

"The Treasury is taking action to expose and end fuel smuggling and other illicit activities by those who are exploiting Libyan oil, petroleum products, and other natural resources for their own personal gain," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  "We are disrupting this illicit and destabilizing activity by isolating the individuals, companies, and vessels engaged in oil smuggling from the global financial system."

"OFAC designated Darren Debono, Gordon Debono, Rodrick Grech, Fahmi Ben Khalifa, Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan Ahmed Arafa, and Terence Micallef pursuant to Executive Order 13726 for their involvement in the smuggling of petroleum products from Libya to Europe. In 2016, Maltese nationals Darren and Gordon Debono formed an unofficial consortium for illicit fuel smuggling from Zuwarah, Libya, to Malta and Italy in an operation that reportedly earned the group over 30 million euros.  Libyan national Fahmi Ben Khalifa managed the Libya side of the fuel smuggling operation, and Maltese national Rodrick Grech transported the Libya-originated fuel to European ports where it was sold using falsified fuel certificates, reportedly forged by Egyptian-Maltese citizen Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan Arafa, to obfuscate the fuel's origin.  Additionally, Maltese national Terence Micallef operated a Malta-based shell company to sell the smuggled petroleum products in Europe," the Treasury statement read.

"The action also targets 21 companies for being owned or controlled by Darren and Gordon Debono and three additional companies for being involved in the illicit exploitation of crude oil or any other natural resources in Libya, including the illicit production, refining, brokering, sale, purchase, or export of Libyan oil."

 


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