Five men busted in Malta for sneaking "private contractors" in and out of Libya
A Maltese arms dealer and four other accomplices have been charged with breaching EU sanctions on Libya, according to Times of Malta newspaper.
The newspaper said Maltese national, James Fenech, had used two military-grade Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to circumvent international sanctions and transport private contractors out of Libya without notifying the authorities.
Therefore on Friday, the five Maltese men, including Fenech, who are believed to have manned the two boats, were all charged in court in Valletta with sanctions busting.
According to the prosecution, Fenech had entered into a contractual agreement with a United Arab Emirates company to shuttle personnel in and out of Libya, which was allegedly done without consent from the relevant authorities."
"A mysterious Malta-registered boat found in the harbour or Zwetina, Libya, some 150 kilometres south of Benghazi, last August had raised suspicion that it was being used to sneak people in and out of the country, prompting the Libyan authorities to launch an investigation." Times of Malta revealed.
The report said that at the time, Libyan news sites had wrongly reported that the boat belonged to the Armed Forces of Malta, while some sections of the Libya press had speculated that it could have been used to ferry special forces or intelligence teams into the region.
Meanwhile, Times of Malta added that it was informed that investigators believed the incident was more likely linked to private military contractors who were believed to have been monitoring a shipment of weapons into Libya. While Fenech insisted that the contract was for "emergency evacuation".
Investigators established that the boats belonged to Standard Charterers, a vessel chartering company based in Malta, which forms part of a web of companies held under the umbrella of Unified Global Services Group, owned by Fenech, whose company "Fieldsports Ltd" is an arms dealing firm that supplies military and tactical equipment to the highest bidder.
According to the newspaper, Fenech's company had once partnered with infamous former US private militia operator Erik Prince, in a venture that was reportedly set to produce and sell ammunition.
"A 2007 report by the European Parliament had found that Malta had, at the time, been the operational base for Prince’s private militia company, formerly known as Blackwater." The newspaper added.