Fuel smuggling net from Libya to Europe arrested by Italian police

A general view shows an oil refinery in Zawia, 55km west of Tripoli December 18, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

 

Smugglers have been stealing fuel in Libya and selling it on across Europe, according to Italian police.

Italian police said on Wednesday that they had broken up a network selling low-quality Libyan diesel fuel worth €30 million euros at service stations in Sicily and as far away as France and Spain.

In a year-long investigation, the Guardia di Finanza financial police found that the smugglers were obtaining fuel destined for ships from a refinery operated by Libya’s National Oil Corporation at Zawiyah, about 40 kilometres west of Tripoli.

Priced 40% below official market rates, the fuel was then mixed and distributed at service stations and on the black market, with police registering 30 trips from Libya to Sicily.

The fraud deprived the Italian tax authorities of about €11 million, police said.

A court in Catania issued several arrest warrants on Wednesday, including one for the CEO of the Italian company implicated in the fraud and an Italian go-between suspected of having mafia links.

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