Melhem Khalaf Seeks To Stop UK Company From Evading Justice Over Beirut Blast

IMLebanon | Daniel Jones/The Telegraph

The head of the Beirut Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf, sent a letter on Monday to the British authorities requesting an intervention to stop the liquidation of a UK-registered company over possible links to last year’s explosion at Beirut port.

According to Reuters, Khalaf saw the need for the U.K. corporate registry to intervene to prevent the company Savaro Ltd from being struck off the records, saying this “would permit an indicted entity to evade justice.”

Melhem Khalaf

The letter from the Beirut Bar Association’s president Melhem Khalaf asserts that the UK company was in fact indicted by the Lebanese judge in charge of the investigation, which is the first time the possible indictment of Savaro has come out to the public.

Last Friday, two British deputies requested the British judiciary to launch an investigation into Savaro for its possible connection to the Beirut port explosion.

On January 12th, Savaro, which was established in 2006 and registered in London, submitted a request to be struck off the U.K. corporate registry, following press reports that revealed it was a shell company for businessmen with ties to the Syrian regime.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether and when Savaro was indicted. While, the judge, the Lebanese justice ministry, and Khalaf did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter.

The woman listed as Savaro’s owner and sole director at Companies House, Marina Psyllou, did not respond to requests for comment on the letter either.

However, Psyllou told Reuters last week that she was just working as an agent for Savaro on behalf of another beneficial owner, whose identity she could not disclose.

She denied that Savaro could have been linked to the explosion, noting that she believes it had never done any business together.

This comes after a Reuters investigation into the Beirut port blast found that the shipment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that exploded had been held in Beirut while on its way to Mozambique.

The Mozambican buyer, FEM, identified the company it bought it from as Savaro.

Meanwhile, the Beirut Bar Association said Savaro’s name and address “appears on documents in its capacity as purchaser of the high-density ammonium nitrate cargo that eventually exploded in August 2020”.

According to the letter, the Beirut Bar Association has been awarded plaintiff capacity in the case, which gave it access to details of the official investigation into the blast.