Updated on June 16 with Kolmar Group's response
A Swiss fuel trading company with a foothold in Malta is facing court action over alleged pillaging of Libyan oil.
TRIAL International, an NGO specialised in anti-impunit, has filed a criminal complaint for complicity in pillaging against the Swiss company Kolmar Group.
In a response, Kolmar Group said it had complied with industry standards.
The company also insists it did not falsify any documents nor had any knowledge of fraudulent activity in relation to customs clearing Libyan gasoil.
Back in 2018 the Daphne Project had reported how Malta was at the centre of a well-coordinated multimillion fuel smuggling operation, with stolen Libyan fuel traded easily in territorial waters and through established storage facilities inside the Grand Harbour and Birżebbuġa.
The operation, which had started following the 2011 collapse of Libya’s Gaddafi regime, evolved into a large criminal organisation coordinated by Maltese, Libyan and Sicilian businessmen close to the mafia and who were left to carry on with their business despite various reports passed onto the Maltese authorities, including by the United Nations.
In a joint report published by TRIAL International and Public Eye back in March, the trading company was shown to have purchased smuggled gasoil from Libya.
The investigation traced an alleged network of gasoil smuggling from Libya which saw it diverted from Libyan tanks with the complicity of an armed group.
It was then moved from Libyan fishing boats to other vessels run by Maltese parties before making its way to Malta.
According to the investigation, the Swiss trader purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of gasoil stored in tanks in the Grand Harbour between 2014 and 2015.
The NGO says these purchases could constitute complicity in war crimes.
"Having analysed the evidence gathered during the investigation, TRIAL International concludes that the Swiss trader may have been complicit in the war crime of pillage. It is now up to the Swiss prosecuting authorities to shed light on the Zugese trader’s actions.” the NGO said.
'We paid market prices'
Meanwhile, in its response to the accusations, Kolmar Group said it had traded in Libyan gasoil, not Libyan crude oil. Kolmar Group was not trading in breach of any international sanctions, the group said.
Kolmar Group says it purchased Libyan gasoil and paid for the gasoil purchased at market prices and not prices “significantly below the market rate".
The trader also said that its commercial operations in Malta were in no way centred or concentrated on Libyan gasoil at the time.
In fact, roughly 90% of the gasoil handled in Malta was of non-Libyan origin, the group said.
In conclusion, the company denied any involvement in criminal activity.
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