Suspicious connection of UK firm with Beirut blast

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (MNA) – A British firm's resistance against disclosing its beneficial owners has persuaded two British parliamentarians to call for further investigations about the UK-registered firm's role in Beirut's huge blast in 2020.

Two senior British parliamentarians called on Friday for an investigation into a British-registered company possibly linked to last year’s devastating explosion in Beirut, after Reuters found that the firm had not disclosed its beneficial owners.

The company, Savaro Ltd, is registered at a London address, and like all British firms is required to list who owns it with Britain’s companies register, known as Companies House.

In an e-mail to Reuters this week, the woman listed as Savaro’s owner and sole director at Companies House, Marina Psyllou, told Reuters that she was acting as an agent on behalf of another beneficial owner, whose identity she could not disclose.

“The person who was and has always been the UBO (ultimate beneficial owner) of the company was always the same. As you should be aware, we cannot disclose his name,” she said. She did not say why she could not disclose his identity.

Global corporate governance rules define a UBO as someone who receives the benefits of an entity’s transactions, typically owning a minimum of 25% of its capital.

Margaret Hodge, a British lawmaker and former cabinet minister who headed parliament’s public affairs committee from 2010-2015, called the apparent failure to list Savaro’s ultimate beneficiary at Companies House “outrageous”.

“The UK authorities should investigate this, given inaccurate information appears to have been filed. We need to challenge formation agents where it appears they may have acted improperly.”

John Mann, a member of Britain’s House of Lords who has investigated the use of UK-registered companies in illicit activity, said the case showed the need for stronger enforcement of Britain’s company disclosure rules.

“It is shocking and very damaging to the reputation of the United Kingdom that Companies House and our national system of company registration can be so easily exploited,” he said.

Psyllou, who provides corporate registrations for clients through her own Cyprus company, Interstatus, said in a follow-up e-mail to Reuters on Thursday that her company “strictly complies with legislation and reports to relevant Regulators”.

She also denied this week that Savaro could have been linked to the Lebanon explosion, saying she believed it had never done any business: “As far as we know the company in question, ever since its registration it remained dormant without any trading or other activity or keeping any bank accounts as the project for which it was incorporated was never realized.” She gave no further information about the company’s intended purpose.

MNA/PR

News Code 168911

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