European Authorities Crack Down on ISIS Oil Smuggling – Syrian War Report

At least nine people were arrested last week, while 50 are under investigation as part of a probe by the Italian police aimed at stopping illegal oil purchases from ISIS by Italian oil companies, Al-Arabiya reported. The investigation, dubbed ‘Dirty Oil’, is conducted by the Attorney General of Catania, Sicily.

Italian officials and members of the Finance Guard believe that between 2015 and 2016, over 30 ships loaded with 80,000 tons of illegal gasoline worth 30 million euros, managed to reach Sicily from Libya. In fact, this seems to be the tip of the iceberg, as the network is much wider, according to authorities.

An Italian Finance Guard’s classified report dated February 2017 says that oil smuggled from ISIS-held territories in Libya reaches Italy where it is refined and then resold into European energy markets for three times the price.

The Italian Finance Guard took samples of oil from various Italian refineries and found that oil supplies from Libya and Syria far exceeded the amount of oil declared in official documents.

According to Assopetroli, the Italian Association of companies in the oil sector, the illegal oil market in Italy caused 2 billion euros in damages from unpaid tax revenues in 2016, with over 10 billion liters of gasoline sold on the black market.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist who was working on exposing these oil smuggling networks in Libya, Malta, and Italy, was recently killed in a car blast in Malta. Observers believe there could be a connection between the death of the journalist and the ‘Dirty Oil’ investigation.

According to a report published by the Presidential Council of the United Nations, “fuel-smuggling ships sail south from Malta to between 40 and 60 nautical miles off the Libyan coast, where they turn off the Automated Identification System. After they are loaded, they return to Malta.”

The ships remain adrift outside Maltese territorial waters, while they unload the fuel on to other vessels that carry it to the coast, the UN report states. In this way, other countries are believed to be benefiting from the smuggling of subsidized fuel.

It is believed that brokers in Italy and Malta falsify the necessary documents for laundering the smuggling operations. Libyan Attorney General has reportedly stated that almost $4 billion worth of gasoline and other subsidized goods are being smuggled annually.

A gallon of Libyan gasoline is about eight cents, while just across the sea in Malta that same gallon can reach a price of six dollars (at 7,500 percent profit). Still, smugglers have been known to not even pay the initial eight cents as they steal it from production plants.

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