Updated 30 August - Added Mr Debono statement

A Libyan accused by the UN of being involved in fuel smuggling via Malta has been arrested in Libya, according to Rada Special Deterrence Force.

Libyan Interior Minister Aref Khoja confirmed that the man described by Rada as the ‘‘king of smuggling’’ had been arrested in an interview today with La Stampa but said the Libyan government had no involvement.

Fahmi Salim Musa Bin Khalifa from Zuwara is labelled by Rada as “one of the biggest smugglers of hydrocarbons and the manipulators of Libyan assets”. He is reported to own a transport network, property in Europe – including Malta – and investment in tourism.

Read: Fuel smuggled from Libya being brought to Malta - UN

In 2016, UN experts told the Security Council that fuel smuggled from Libya was being transferred between ships on the high seas and brought to Malta.

Bin Khalifa co-owns ADJ Trading with former Malta international footballer Darren Debono and an Egyptian man, the report by the panel of experts on Libya said.

Read: Fuel smuggling reports always investigated – Abela

In a detailed annex on fuel smuggling, the UN report linked ADJ Trading to the fuel smuggling business and said the Maltese authorities were aware of the company’s activities – prompting Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela to say that the Maltese authorities always investigated reports of fuel smuggling from Libya, although he refrained from commenting on this particular case.

Relationship with Bin Khalifa ended in 2015 - Debono

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Debono acknowledged that he, Mr Bin Khalifa and Ibrahim Arafa Ahmed had been joint shareholders in ADJ Trading. 

"However when Mr Fahmi Bin Khalif was first mentioned in the press some two years ago, my client stopped all activities and trading in the company and placed the company into liquidation. This is the reason the last trading accounts refer to the year 2015.

"Since 2015, Darren Debono personally and/or his companies terminated all trading, business and/or commercial relationships with Mr Khalifa," the statement continued. 

Liquidation accounts were filed with the Malta Financial Services Authority around two months ago and the company is expected to be struck off the MFSA's Register of Companies in the first days of September, save for any third party making a claim before the Maltese civil courts.  

Mr Debono's lawyers also noted that a UN Security Council report by a 'Panel of Experts on Libya' published on 1 July, 2017 made no reference to Mr Debono or to any vessel or person connected, directly or indirectly, to him or ADJ Trading Limited. 

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