Foreign ministry launches investigation into falsified oil documents claims

An internal investigation has been launched into claims that documents were falsified by an offical, to help smugglers transport fuel into Italy

The Foreign Ministry has launched an internal investigation, into claims that documents were falsified by a ministry official, in order to aid smugglers transport fuel from Libya to Italy.

The investigation was launched despite no information being given that this was the case, the ministry said this morning.

An Italian news source claimed that investigators in Catania honed in on  contacts which Darren Debono had, who was arrested by Italian authorities just two weeks ago, with individuals within the ministry. MaltaToday had reported on this two weeks ago. The newspaper had also highlighted Debono's claim that with some pressure from people at the Economy Ministry he could get the UN to change its report on fuel smuggling.

Il Sole 24 Ore said that the contacts enabled Debono to get ahold of official certificates of origin, for the smuggled diesel.

The documents were signed by a “legislation officer”, said the international news outlet, at the Foreign Affairs ministry, initialed “K.M.”

Debono had a meeting on 29 January of last year at the ministry, said the news outlet. They added that a phonecall, which took place on 3 June 2016, between Debono and an Italian interlocutor working for Maxcom Petroli – the Italian holding company being implicated – was intercepted.

During the call, Debono reportedly told Marco Porta that he was at the ministry.

Debono was one of several arrested by Italian authorities, on suspicion of connections to a “€30 million fuel smuggling operation”.

The ministry added that it would also assist in any other investigation on the case.