Disasters & Accidents

Investigation links Beirut port fertilizer to Syrian businessmen

By Anna Maria Guzelian

Beirut, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- A recent investigation by the al-Jadeed Lebanese TV channel has revealed alleged links between three Syrian businessmen and the ammonium nitrate that exploded at the Beirut port on 4 August.

Shortly after the blast, which left over 200 people dead and 6,500 injured, Georgian authorities confirmed to Efe that the improperly-stored ammonium nitrate was produced on their territory.

The fertilizer was then shipped by the Moldova-flagged Rhosus cargo ship toward Mozambique in 2013.

“I took this pursuit in the suspicion of the shipment and the entry to Lebanon because it was clear to me that the deal was made by a mediator company called Savaro and not directly between the company in Mozambique and Georgia,” Firas Hatoum, who led the investigation, told Efe.

With no known headquarters, the company has links to Cyprus and the Virgin Islands, according to data of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The shell company acted as an intermediary between the former Soviet Republic and the African country for the transaction of ammonium nitrate, Hatoum said, based on the deal he had access to.

During the investigation, the journalist discovered that there were 70 companies sharing the same postal address with Savaro in 2013 and all of them, except one, were “shell companies”.

“Only one company, HESCO for construction and engineering, proved to be real and had the same directors as Savaro Limited,” Hatoum said.

A second address led him to a company named IK Petroleum, which has the same address and senior officials as Savaro, he added.

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