Thursday, October 15, 2020


Law enforcement in Malta closes its eyes to the lucrative Libyan oil smuggling trade, most likely because it has been instructed by government officials linked to the country's banks that profit from the deposits that oil smugglers, who often pose as commercial fisherman, make into their accounts. Most people are familiar with the Satabank scandal; Sata reportedly accepted the profits earned from illegal smuggling of Libyan oil; the OFAC-sanctioned Tiuboda Oil and Gas Services LLC, which faked Bill of Origin certificates, and then sold the oil products in Italy, was at the center of the operation.



 Our concern today is that Malta's banks openly accept what are obvious receipts from known fuel smugglers, and no bank in Malta has even been cited by regulators for violating the law. While he has a criminal case pending against him in Italy for that crime, former international Maltese footballer and restaurant owner Darren Debono (don't forget Gorden), whose OFAC-sanctioned Scoglitti restaurant cannot accept US credit cards, only cash, operates his business with impunity. Maltese politicians, some of whom are targets of the Malta Money Laundering investigation, often eat there, and it is doubtful if they ever receive a bill at the end of a meal. In truth and in fact, Debono's commercial fishing boats are smuggling fuel, and falsely recording and invoicing fish catches to cover for the fuel/oil they transport. The oil is then hidden within Malta, its point of origin falsely noted of record, and then it off off to be sold abroad, in Italy, France and Spain.

The Italian Giardia di Finanza, which calls its enforcement program Operation Dirty Oil, warns that this smuggling activity endangers the public; there have been a number of car bomb explosions, targeting rival  smugglers disguised as fisherman, but it will take the deaths of innocent victims before there is any action in Malta, if past history is any guide. Some of those "fisherman" also smuggle people, meaning that there are human rights violations issues as well.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to Malta's dirty banks, which operate their money laundering facilities with impunity, due to a hands-off program supervised by senior government officials, who personally profit from it. Until actual enforcement occurs, followed up by reform, occurs Malta's financial sector will continue to get a black eye from Libyan oil.

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