Although police released details of the case on Saturday, a spokesperson refused to publish the names of the accused.
But Fenech is known for his services in weapons supply and maritime security with companies Fieldsports, Outdoor Gear Supplies Ltd, PBM, RAE Malta, Safety At Sea Logistics, Sovereign Charterers, and Stategic Supplies Ltd. All companies fall under his Unified Global Services Group.
Sovereign Charterers is a vessel chartering company for companies in oil and gas, search and rescue, film production, and logistics.
Together with four of his employees, Fenech, 41 from Mellieha, pleaded not guilty to breaching EU sanctions.
The other four men, aged 63, 47, 45 and 44, as well as the company Sovereign Charterers itself, were charged with sanctions-busting, having transferred directly or indirectly two RHIBs registered in Malta to Libya and in so doing, breaching regulations laid down by the Council of the European Union.
A request to freeze assets linked to Fenech has also been issued and accepted by the courts, the police said.
The men were released on bail. Long and intensive investigations by the police counter-terrorism squad led to the arrests, police said in a statement.
The investigations began after the police received information that a Maltese-registered company had allegedly exported two boats to Libya without the permission of the Maltese authorities in June last year.
The deal had been struck between a Maltese company and another company based in the UAE for the boats to be sent to Libya in case an emergency evacuation was required by the Emirati company.
Investigators believe the incident is more likely linked to private military contractors who were believed to have been monitoring a shipment of weapons into Libyan waters.
Superintendent George Cremona and Inspector Omar Zammit prosecuted. Magistrate Victor Axiaq presided. Lawyers Joseph Giglio, Patrick Valentino and Stephen Tonna Lowell appeared for Fenech.
Fenech’s Fieldsports had once partnered with infamous former US private militia operator Erik Prince, in a venture that was reportedly set to produce and sell ammunition.
A 2007 report by the European Parliament had found that Malta had, at the time, been the operational base for Prince’s private militia company, formerly known as Blackwater.
UAE-contracted arms dealer accused of smuggling mercenaries to Libya
Malta’s judiciary accused a local arms dealer – contracted by an Emirati company – of violating the sanctions imposed on Libya.
Times of Malta newspaper reported on Saturday that arms dealer James Fenish, 41, used military rubber boats to get mercenaries out of Libya without notifying the authorities.
The newspaper explained that the Maltese court in the capital Valletta charged Fenish and four other men on Friday, the other defendants were not identified.
The prosecution said that the arms dealer had been contracted by a company based in the UAE to carry out secret operations of eviction and deportation in Libya, actions taken without the permission of the concerned authorities.
The newspaper also pointed out that in August 2019, a boat registered in Malta was found in the Libyan port of Az-Zuwaytinah, about 150 kilometres away from the south of Benghazi, which raised doubts about its use to smuggle people in and out of the country.
As a result, Libyan authorities opened an investigation into the matter and looked into possible money laundering operations.
As a result, the court “agreed to a request to freeze assets linked to Fenish”, a Maltese police official said on Saturday.
In March 2011, the Security Council decided to impose an arms embargo on Libya and called on all member states to inspect ships heading towards it and to confiscate and destroy items which are prohibited.
Libya descended in lawlessness when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a NATO-backed revolution in 2011.
Uncontrolled factions have since fought for power with war breaking out between different alliances and Libya’s tribal factions.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord is currently engaged in a battle against the UAE-backed Renegade General Khalifa Haftar who heads the Libya National Army (LNA) in the east of the country.