Revealed: Trio sanctioned over Al Assad ties shared base with firm in Beirut blast case

UK's High Court ruled on Thursday London-based Savaro is liable to pay damages to victims of 2020 chemical explosion

The 2020 port explosion devastated Beirut and killed more than 200 people. Reuters
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Three businessmen with links to Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad ran companies that shared addresses in the UK with the organisation allegedly behind the chemicals that caused the deadly 2020 blast in Lebanon's capital.

On Thursday, the London High Court ruled that UK-registered Savaro Ltd was liable to pay damages to victims of the Beirut port explosion.

More than 200 people were killed when a shipment of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which was impounded in Beirut while en route to Mozambique, exploded.

It had allegedly been purchased by Savaro Ltd in 2013.

According to the UK’s Companies House, George Haswani, Imad Khuri and Mr Haswani’s son-in-law Yousef Arbash are all listed as being involved with companies that shared some London addresses with Savaro Ltd.

All three have been sanctioned by the US for their ties to Mr Al Assad but the court papers make no allegations of culpability in the port blast case.

Savaro Ltd, which was incorporated in the UK in 2006, has had five changes of directors, and presently lists Ukrainian businessman Volodymyr Hliadchenko as its sole director.

For a number of years (2006-2021) it has listed Interstatus as its company secretary.

Interstatus is owned by Marina Psyllou, who was previously also a director of Savaro Ltd between October 2020 and August 2021.

Official documents show Interstatus signed filings submitted by Hesco Engineering and Construction, which was incorporated in the UK in 2005 and listed Mr Haswani and Mr Arbash as directors.

Both companies, Savaro Ltd and Hesco Engineering and Construction, were moved between different addresses twice, with paperwork filed on the same days in 2008 and 2011. They have been listed at both Tottenham Court Road in London and Great Russell Street.

Mr Haswani was sanctioned by the US in 2015 for allegedly buying oil from ISIS on behalf of the Syrian government.

Interstatus also acted as a secretary for IK Petroleum, which was directed by Mr Khuri until 2016.

Mr Khuri’s brother Mudalal is also on the sanctions list. He was accused by the US of attempting to source ammonium nitrate months before the Russian freighter Rhosus ― which was carrying the chemicals that later exploded, causing the Beirut blast — docked in Lebanon.

This week's UK court ruling against Savaro Ltd was the first in the case.

The civil suit was filed in 2021 by the Beirut Bar Association's prosecution office and several victims' families.

The case will return to court in April where a decision on damages will be decided.

Updated: February 26, 2023, 9:18 AM