The Address | Benghazi – Libya
ROME – Italian tax police have arrested another suspect in the ongoing investigation into a US$50M VAT fraud, invoice fraud, money laundering and smuggling operation of Libyan fuel oil by organised criminals.
According to local press reports and Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project Antonio Desiata has been arrested and assets in the form of 29M litres of fuel, 11 properties in Genoa, Trieste and Abbiategrasso and a 14-m yacht seized.
Mr Desiata is accused of being the de facto administrator of the Rome-based Oilchem srl and of the Milan-based Xcel Petroleum – companies operating in the wholesale of petroleum products.
The Italian tax police mounted operation “Dirty Oil” several years ago to investigate the smuggling of fuel oil from militia-controlled oil refineries in Zuwara, Libya, on modified fishing boats equipped with cargo tanks. These performed ship-to-ship transfers in the Mediterranean with tankers said to be owned by Maltese brothers Darren Debono and Gordon Debono, who are being held on bail in Italy.
The tankers, named as Barbosa Star, Sea Master X and Amazing F, were observed by investigators delivering the fuel oil via dolphin and pipeline in the Grand Harbour of Valletta.
The fuel oil was stored in Malta and re-labelled by local officials as being from Saudi Arabia, before being smuggled by other channels into Italy, were it was sold below market prices at unbranded diesel pumps up and down the country, depriving the Italian treasury of around US$50M in VAT.
Source: Tanker Shipping and Trade