Two Maltese are under investigation by the Prosecutor Office in Catania, Sicily for fuel smuggling from Libya. The investigations have led the authorities in Catania to issue nine arrest warrants. Six of the them have been arrested and an international arrest warrant has been issued for the other three. One of the arrested is Marco Porta, 48 years, the administrator for Maxcom Bunker Spa.
An arrest warrant was issued against Fahmi Mousa Saleem Ben Khalifa, known as “il Malem” (the leader). Originally he is from Zuwarah in Libya, and following Qaddafi’s overthrow, he escaped from prison in 2011 where he was jailed for 15 years for drug trafficking. According to the investigation, Ben Khalifa has led an armed militia close to the coastal area bordering Tunisia. Recently he was taken in custody by the Libyan authorities on accusations of fuel smuggling.

And then there is 45 year old Nicola Orazio Romeo, linked to the Mafia clan of Ercolano. According to a conversation among the suspects he is described as “the untouchable”. He is considered as an integral part of the Maltese component of the organisation, whose primary function was the organisation of fuel transport from Libya by sea. Romeo has already been indicted in 2008 for his mafia connections with the Santapaola clan and for other organised illegal activities in the Acireale and Aci Catena area in order to get money by using force and threats.

The Prosecution claims that together with Nicola Orazio Romeo, the two Maltese citizens – Darren and Gordon Debono – were involved in the illicit business of fuel smuggling from Libya by using a network of commercial companies. Darren Debono is a retired football player and in Malta is considered as one of the most experienced in the game. He represented Malta with the National team and won all major football trophies with Sliema Wanderers and Valletta FC. Debono was twice given suspended jail sentences by the Law Courts in Malta; once for stealing a refrigerated trailer for storing fish and in the second case for defrauding the Government of Malta by not declaring the right amount of fish landings with the Customs Department.

In February 2016, the prominent investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was killed by a powerful car bomb, reported on her blog that she received threats via email from a family member close to Darren Debono (  The role played by another Libyan national had a determined factor. Tareq Dardar from Zuwara is considered as the prime suspect of collecting payments in foreign accounts held for Ben Khalifa. In the investigation, it also emerged that the administrator of Maxcom Bunker spa, a company with legal head office in Rome, would trade petroleum products and bunkering activities with the involvement of three employees who are under house arrest. They are Rosanna La Duca, a 48 year old consultant for Maxcom Bunker spa, Stefano Cevasco, a 48 year old businessman and Antonio Baffo, 61, responsbile for tax filing in Augusta.

Source: medNews