(From the Independent)
As Russia continues to accuse Turkey and its presidential family of directly benefitting from the trade in oil with the Islamic State, it transpires that the oil tankers allegedly involved in the illicit business are registered in Malta and all fly the Maltese flag.
Moreover, at least one of dozens of companies set up in Malta by Azerbaijani billionaire Mubariz Mansimov – which over the last year sold oil tankers to Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – is also at the centre of the accusations.
Russia’s allegations of Turkish involvement in ISIS’ oil trade have focused primarily on the Turkish president’s son, Bilal Erdogan. The 34-year-old is one of three equal partners in the BMZ group, a major Turkish oil and marine shipping company, which both the Russian and Syrian governments have accused of purchasing oil from ISIS.
Russian and Syrian officials and media reports from those countries suggest that Bilal Erdogan has been directly involved in the oil trade with ISIS, and that Turkey downed a Russian jet on 24 November specifically to protect his oil smuggling business.
Regional politics, propaganda and the Russia-Turkey sabre-rattling aside, the crux of the matter as far as Malta is concerned is that the fleet of five tankers owned by Erdogan’s son, which are being linked to the illegal trade, are all registered in Malta. Should the accusations continue to grow in this respect, Transport Malta would eventually be called in to investigate since the ships fly the Maltese maritime flag.
Last September, the BMZ Group purchased two oil tankers from the Malta-based Oil Transportation & Shipping Services Co Ltd, which is owned by Azerbaijani billionaire Mubariz Mansimov and which is reported to be an affiliate of the BMZ Group.
Another three oil tankers purchased by BMZ were acquired from Palmali Shipping and Transportation Agency, which is also owned by Mansimov and which shares the same Istanbul address, according to the International Maritime Organization registry, with Oil Transportation & Shipping Services Co Ltd, which is owned by Mansimov’s Palmali Group, along with dozens of other companies set up in Malta. These include a number of the group’s holding companies, shipping companies, and offshore services companies.
The Palmali Group is based in Istanbul but the lion’s share of its holdings and businesses appear to be registered in Malta through dozens of offshore companies. Read more