"... The US embassy in Beirut quickly became involved in the controversy over the re-export of diesel from Lebanon to Syria. Al-Akhbar has learned that the office of US Ambassador Maura Connelly contacted Bashir Bassatne, CEO of oil company Hypco-Cogico, on Thursday February 14, and requested a meeting for further clarification....
According to reliable sources, the head of Future parliamentary bloc Fouad Siniora summoned Ahmad Salim Ramadan, general manager of energy firm Uniterminals, last week, and queried him about his company’s involvement in the presence of Siniora’s advisor Bassam Tamim.
The sources said that Siniora admonished Ramadan – who is affiliated with the March 14 alliance – for his company’s role in exporting diesel to Syria. Ramadan responded that he was engaged in a purely commercial venture that generated lucrative profits. He had not violated any local laws or international resolutions, which he said do not impose any sanctions on doing business with private Syrian companies.
Observers estimate the volume of cross-border smuggling of diesel at about 20,000 tons per month.
Uniterminals’ boss also told Siniora that the Syrian authorities had deregulated diesel to counter the shortage of this vital commodity. He said that there were more than ten private Syrian companies currently dealing with Lebanese, Turkish, Greek, and Russian firms to import fuel that is desperately needed in Syria.Several independent sources confirmed to Al-Akhbar the extensive involvement of Uniterminals and Hypco-Cogico in the re-export of diesel to Syria by land and sea.
It is worth mentioning that Uniterminals is a Lebanese joint stock company in which the Obegi family, owners of Bemo Bank and the heirs of Pierre Khoury, own a 50 percent stake, with the other half controlled by Independent Petroleum Group, which is headquartered in Kuwait.
The second firm, Hypco-Cogico, is owned by the Bassatne family. A year and a half ago, Hypco acquired Cogico’s facilities and assets, which were controlled by MP Walid Jumblatt through Bahij Abou Hamzeh........"