Beirut, Lebanon (PortSEurope) October 11, 2021 – A chemical-trading network controlled by Ukrainians and hidden behind a veil of proxies and shell firms was the owner of the 2,700 tonnes of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate that exploded in the port of Beirut, according to an investigation of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The explosion killed almost 200 people, injured 6,000, left over
300,000 without proper housing and caused damages estimated at $15 billion. An article published on the website of OCCRP under the headline Ownership of chemicals that exploded at Beirut port traces back to Ukraine describes a trail of documents that reveals a decades-old chemical-trading network controlled by Ukrainians, hidden behind a veil of proxies and shell firms. Key findings of the journalistic investigation: A Ukrainian businessman named Volodymyr Verbonol and partners were behind the company that owned the ammonium nitrate shipment; the company was part of a sprawling network involved in chemical trading since at least the early 2000s; the network disguised its operations behind at least half a dozen trade names and various strawmen and shell companies; offshore service providers in Cyprus and the United Kingdom facilitated the network’s operations. According to OCCRP, “the complex network behind the cargo also speaks to the sophisticated methods routinely deployed in international shipping and trade to obscure ownership, in what experts say is often a deliberate attempt to evade liability and facilitate criminal or other underhanded business practices”. More about the plans to rebuild the geopolitically strategic facility in the Eastern Mediterranean can be found in the following PortSEurope analysis CMA CGM most likely to rebuild Beirut port in a project worth €600 million – German multi-billion euro project rejected France expected to beat China in the race for the Port of Beirut – Hezbollah is the main obstacle Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.
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