A United Nations' panel of experts has confirmed the involvement of Maltese companies in the smuggling of Libyan resources that violates UN sanctions, a court has been told.

This was revealed in reports by the United Nations' sanctions committee, which were tabled in court by the chair of Malta’s sanctions monitoring board in proceedings linked to an extensive police investigation into international fuel smuggling. 

The documents were exhibited in the ongoing compilation of evidence against Pier-Paul Debono, who is pleading not guilty to money laundering activities between 2014 and 2016, when he temporarily held the post of director at World Water Fisheries, a company owned by his brother Darren Debono. 

He is also pleading not guilty to knowingly or negligently making false declarations to auditors, destroying, altering or falsifying documents, and breaching company laws. 

The request for a freezing order, normally put forward by the prosecution in money laundering cases was, however, withdrawn at the start of proceedings. 

The accused’s brother, Darren, also stands accused of money laundering in separate proceedings that kicked off last year.

When taking the witness stand earlier this week, Neville Aquilina, chair of the sanctions monitoring board, said the UN Security Council issued orders to member nations and ordered military action and sanctions in case they defaulted.

A panel of eight experts was tasked with overseeing the implementation of those sanctions, Aquilina added. 

That panel of experts held that Maltese companies were involved in smuggling of Libyan resources in violation of UN sanctions, the court was told.

The witness referred to an executive order by former US President Barack Obama in 2016 prohibiting US citizens from engaging with subjects targeted by UN sanctions and freezing any related property under US jurisdiction. 

Sanctions also targeted people from Libya, Malta and Egypt allegedly involved in the smuggling of petroleum products from Libya to Europe

And once "dirty money" was introduced into the island, it remained a problem for the jurisdiction, Aquilina told the court, presided by magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, was told.

Asked by defence lawyer Franco Debono whether the accused’s name featured in the documents presented in court, the witness said that he could not confirm whether Pier-Paul was expressly named.

However, his brother Darren as well as ADJ Trading Ltd and World Water Fisheries were mentioned, the witness said. 

The case continues.

Lawyers Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb are defence counsel.

Inspectors Joseph Xerri, James Turner and Omar Caruana are prosecuting, assisted by AG lawyers Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango and Antoine Agius Bonnici.

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