Criminal complaint filed against Swiss trader Kolmar for alleged oil smuggling

According to the NGO investigation, Kolmar purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of gasoil from Libya. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Civil society groups have accused the Zug-based oil trader Kolmar of complicity in war crimes related to the purchase of oil from war-torn Libya.

This content was published on May 23, 2020 - 14:09

In the complaint filed with the Swiss attorney general’s office on Thursday, non-governmental organisation TRIAL International alleges that Kolmar Group illegally smuggled oil from Libya between 2014 and 2015.

On Saturday, TRIAL International published a statementExternal link explaining that the complaint is based on an investigation conducted with NGO Public Eye that traced the transnational oil trading network originating in Libya.

According to the investigationExternal link, Kolmar purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of gasoil from Libya, which, with the help of armed groups and a series of middlemen, were diverted and stored in Malta.

If a company knowingly buys stolen raw materials from a country at war, it can be found guilty of complicity in pillaging, says the NGO. This is considered a war crime under both international law and Swiss criminal law.

“There were a significant number of indicators, all of which were in the red, that should have deterred Kolmar from carrying out these transactions," says Philip Grant, Executive Director of TRIAL International.

Libya has been consumed in a violent battle for political control, which erupted in 2014.

In April, following the NGO investigation, Kolmar put out a statementExternal link denying involvement in any smuggling operations. It added that it had complied with customer due diligence procedures known as Know Your Customer (KYC), which are standard in the industry.

The company also said that it paid market prices for Libyan gasoil, not below-market, which would be an indication of smuggling activity. It also asserts that roughly 90% of the gasoil handled in Malta was of non-Libyan origin.

According to Keystone-SDA news agency, the attorney general’s office confirms it received the complaint.

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