Fuel smuggled from Libya is being transferred between ships on the high seas and brought to Malta, UN experts have told the Security Council.

The mastermind is Libyan national Fahmi Ben Khalifa, who 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.

In a detailed annex on fuel smuggling, the UN report links ADJ Trading to the fuel smuggling business and points out that the Maltese authorities are aware of the company’s activities.

The report says that ships smuggling fuel sail south from Malta to between 40 and 60 nautical miles off the Libyan coast, where they turn off the automated identification system, a tracking system.

Ships turn off automated identification system

After they are loaded, they return to Malta. The vessels remain adrift at least 12 nautical miles off the coast, outside Maltese territorial waters, while they discharge the fuel to other vessels that carry it to the coast.

The UN report linked Mr Khalifa, who is also known as Fahmi Salim, to two vessels involved in the fuel smuggling operation: Basbosa Star and Amazigh F, which changed her name in December last year to Sea Master X. Both vessels were tracked close to the Libyan shore on multiple occasions in 2015. In 10 instances both vessels were detected alongside each other on the limits of Maltese territorial waters.

According to the report, both vessels were also alongside the vessel Solia on seven occasions in September and October last year.

Mr Khalifa holds €330,000 worth of shares in ADJ. The same amount is held each by Mr Debono and Egyptian Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan Ahmed Arafa. Mr Debono also owns the company Andrea Martina Ltd, which operates the Bonu 5.

The UN report says marine traffic data shows Bonu 5 approached the Amazigh F and Basbosa Star on September 24, 2015.The three vessels were side-by-side. The Maltese authorities are aware of the smuggling vessels.

Mr Khalifa controls a militia and chairs the board of directors of a Libyan company, Tiuboda Oil and Gas Services Limited, which requested a licence to import fuel into Malta. The report said that according to the Maltese authorities, the request was rejected owing to the situation in Libya. Attempts to contact Mr Debono yesterday proved futile.

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