British MPs Want To Investigate UK Firm Possibly Linked To Beirut Blast

Daniel Jones/The Telegraph | ICRC

Two senior British members of parliament are calling for an investigation into a company registered in the United Kingdom that may be linked to the Beirut Port explosion of August 4th.

Savaro Ltd is the company through which Fábrica de Explosivos de Moçambique (FEM), a commercial explosives manufacturer, ordered a shipment of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that ended up stored in Beirut port for years.

While all British firms are required to list the identity of their owners with Britain’s Companies House, Savaro Ltd did not.

Companies House – WalesOnline

The woman listed as Savaro Ltd’s owner, Marina Psyllou, revealed to Reuters that she was not the true owner, but an agent on behalf of the beneficial owner, and that she could not disclose the identity of the owner. 

“The person who was and has always been the UBO (ultimate beneficial owner) of the company was always the same. As you should be aware, we cannot disclose his name,” she told Reuters in an email. 

Club of Mozambique

Psyllou, who has her own company in Cyprus called Interstatus, also denied any possible links between Savaro Ltd and the Beirut blast.

“As far as we know, the company in question, ever since its registration, has remained dormant without any trading or other activity or keeping any bank accounts, as the project for which it was incorporated was never realized,” she said, without including details of the said project.

An investigation led by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) found out that Savaro Ltd is linked to a company in Ukraine also called Savaro, via a series of shareholders and directors in Cyprus and the United States.

Court documents have revealed that, in 2015, Ukraine-based Savaro made an attempt to inspect the quality and quantity of the ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port warehouse. 

When Savaro found out that more than half of the material was in poor condition, neither it nor FEM ever tried to recover the shipment.

British MPs React

The Guardian

Now, British lawmaker and former minister Margaret Hodge is calling UK authorities to investigate this “outrageous” failure to list the company’s ultimate beneficiary at Companies House.

Another parliamentarian, John Mann, has expressed concern saying, “It is shocking and very damaging to the reputation of the United Kingdom that Companies House and our national system of company registration can be so easily exploited.”

Mysterious Owner

Investigations Lead at Transparency International UK, Ben Cowdock, said that tracing back the shipment would depend on uncovering who stands behind Savaro Ltd, adding that it should be as straightforward as looking it up with Companies House.

However, it still remains a mystery.

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