In the mysterious story of how it ended With a charge of ammonium nitrate Highly explosive in the Beirut port, only one thing is clear, and that is that no one has ever come forward and declared ownership of it.
There are many open questions about the massive and deadly explosion that hit the Lebanese capital last week, but the property issue is supposed to be among the easiest.
However, the exact identification of the owner, especially for the shipment is like The seriousness of that carried by the ship Roussos, which flew the Moldovan flag to Beirut about 7 years ago, is essential in the maritime shipping movement, as it is the most important element of cargo insurance and the settlement of disputes that often arise.
“We do not know anything.”
However, interviews and searches for documents were conducted by Reuters And it was reported by “Al Arabiya Net” In ten countries, seeking to find out the original owner of this 2,750-ton shipment, it revealed instead a complex story that includes lost documents, classified activities and a network of small, obscure businesses spread across the globe.
In details, opposition politician Ghassan Hasbani, who was a former deputy prime minister of Lebanon, said: “Goods were transported from one country to another, and ended up in a third country without an owner of the goods. Why did it end up here?”
While all those involved in the shipment denied knowing its original owner, and also refused to answer the question at other times.
Among them were those who said they did not know the owner The ship’s captainNeither the Georgian fertilizer company that produced the shipment, nor the African company that requested to purchase it, except that they reported that the company that bought the shipment did not pay for the shipment.
“A series of ominous events”
The official version of the recent voyage of the ship “Roussos” speaks of it as a series of ominous events.
Navigational records show that the ship was loaded with ammonium nitrate in Georgia in September 2013, with the aim of delivering it to an explosives maker in Mozambique. However, the captain of the ship and two crew members say they were instructed before the ship left the Mediterranean from Russian businessman Igor Greshushkin, who they considered the actual owner of the ship, to stop at what was not scheduled in Beirut and load an additional cargo.
Legal dispute in Beirut
Roussos arrived in Beirut in November, but never left, as she was caught in a legal dispute over unpaid port fees and ship defects.
Official accounts say that creditors accused the ship’s legal owner, registered as a Panama-based company, of abandoning it, as the cargo was later unloaded and placed in a warehouse on the dock.
Conversely, the Beirut-based law firm Baroudi & Partners, which was representing creditors, did not respond to requests to identify the original legal owner of the shipment.
Nor was Greshushkin, a Russian businessman, reached.
The ship sank!
Lebanese customs authorities said the empty vessel eventually sank at anchor in 2018.
The last movements of the ship “Roussos” were subjected to scrutiny again after the ammonium nitrate in the warehouse caught fire and exploded last week, in an accident that killed at least 171 people, injured thousands and displaced 250 thousand.
700 thousand dollars .. who paid for it?
Among the questions still awaiting an answer: Who paid for the ammonium nitrate? Did he ever try to recover the shipment when the “Roussos” was detained? And if he didn’t try, then why?
An industry source said the value of the shipment, which was packed in large white bags, was about $ 700,000 in 2013 prices.
“No insurance on it”
The investigations have highlighted the many violations committed by the alien ship. Under international maritime agreements and some local laws, merchant ships must have insurance to cover accidents such as environmental damage, loss of life, or injuries resulting from drowning, leakage, or collision.
Nevertheless, two sources familiar with the matter stated that there was no insurance for Roussos.
The captain of the Russian ship, Boris Prokoshev, said by phone from his home in Sochi, Russia, that he had seen an insurance policy but could not confirm its authenticity.Pay on delivery and sell at auction!
In turn, Antonio Cunia Vaz, a spokesman for the Mozambican company that requested the purchase of the shipment of ammonium nitrate, Fabrica de Esposefos Musambique, Mozambique Explosives Manufacture (FEM), said that the company was not the owner of the shipment at the time because it had agreed to pay when Delivery.
The producing company was the Georgian Rustavi Azot fertilizer manufacturer, which was then liquidated. Its owner at the time, Roman Bibia, said he lost control of the Rustavi ammonium nitrate plant in 2016.
Court documents in the United Kingdom show that a creditor forced the company to sell its assets at an auction that year.
Another company currently running the plant, JSC Rustavi Azot, which also said it could not reveal the owner of the shipment, said Lifan Burdiladze, now the plant’s first deputy manager.
Fabrica de Esposyphos Musambique, the Mozambique explosives maker (FM), said it had ordered the shipment through a trading company, Safaru Limited, which has two companies registered in London and Ukraine but whose website is not currently operational.
A company titled does not exist!
A visit to the London listed address of Savarrow Limited on Monday showed a house with balcony, built in Victorian style, with a locked and fortified door, close to the trendy bars of Shoreditch. No one responded to the knock on the door.
Speaking with Greta Pailin, the director of the UK-registered company Safaru Limited, a Lithuanian company operating in Cyprus, she refused to answer!
A source familiar with the inner workings of Safaru’s business said it was selling fertilizers from the former Soviet Union to clients in Africa.
According to the Ukrainian companies database “U Control”, businessman Vladimir Verbonol is registered as a manager of Safaru in Ukraine, which is his residence.
Who is a “Russian”?
As grief and anger over the explosion turned into civil unrest in Beirut, indications appeared that the promised Lebanese government investigation had begun to focus again on the ship “Roussos” and Greshushkin, the man the ship’s crew considered its owner.
A security source said that Gryshushkin was questioned by Cypriot police at his home in Cyprus last Thursday regarding the shipment.
A spokesman for the Cypriot police confirmed that a person whose name was not revealed was being questioned at the request of the International Police in Beirut.
In turn, Captain Prokoshev said that the ship “Roussos” arrived in Beirut in November 2013 and was leaked and its general condition was dilapidated, saying: “It was really suffering from problems.”
13 days .. arrest in Spain
In July 2013, that is, 4 months before its docking in Beirut, the port authorities of Seville in Spain detained the ship for 13 days after discovering many deficiencies, including broken doors, corrosion in the surface area, and deficiencies in auxiliary engines, according to data. Shipping.
The data also showed that the ship resumed sailing after the inspection company Maritime Lloyd issued it to a “cargo ship construction safety certificate”, a certificate that is supposed to include a survey of it.
Knowing that the Georgia-based Maritime Lloyd Company is an unrated company, and it is among the most prominent and used inspection companies.
Timuraz Kaftaradze, inspector at Maritime Lloyd, said he could not confirm whether or not the company provided inspection documents to officials at the port of Seville, explaining that he worked for the company in 2013, but other staff and management staff have been changed since then.
In an e-mail, the group of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, which includes 27 maritime states, confirmed that the ship “Roussos” was detained under its authority, that the ship had been detained and searched in Seville.
Moldova, where the ship is registered, is registered as owned by the Panama-based Brearwood Corp., according to the ship’s certificate of ownership.
According to international records, the charterer of the vessel was Tito Shipping Limited, based in the Marshall Islands, and it was dissolved in 2014 according to the Global Registry database, which says it provides shipping registration services for the Marshall Islands.
Igor Zaharia, director of the Moldova Maritime Agency, said Greshushkin was the director of Tito Shipping.
While the captain of Roussos gave the email address Tito Shipping and crew members were using, those addresses did not respond to any of the requests for comment sent to it.
The captain explained that he considers Greshushkin and Tito as one entity.
It is noteworthy that the huge explosion that shook Beirut on the fourth of August due to the explosion of tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in one of the wards of the port for years, surrounding a devastated capital and wreaking havoc in its neighborhoods, killing at least 171 people and injuring more than six thousand, except for missing persons. Estimates on their number, according to what the Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday.