Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Baghdad

US firm named in Beirut blast lawsuit denies wrongdoing

 US firm named in Beirut blast lawsuit denies wrongdoing

The explosion that hit Beirut’s port on August 4, 2020 left more than 200 people dead and thousands injured

Washington – A US firm targeted in a $250 million lawsuit over the 2020 port explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200 people has denied any wrongdoing in the tragedy.

TGS, a US-Norwegian geophysical services group, said it is aware of the suit filed this week in a Texas court by nine plaintiffs who are all US citizens, but said it has not yet been formally served with the papers.

“We deny each and every allegation raised in the lawsuit, and intend to vigorously defend this matter in court,” TGS said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

TGS owns the British firm Spectrum Geo, which a decade ago chartered the Rhosus ship, which was carrying the ammonium nitrate that was subsequently unloaded at Beirut port and exploded on August 4, 2020.

Besides the fatalities, the blast wounded thousands of people and ravaged entire neighborhoods. It was described as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history.

Accountability Now, a Swiss foundation assisting the plaintiffs, said Spectrum had “entered into a series of highly profitable but suspicious contracts” with the energy ministry in Beirut to transport seismic survey equipment from Lebanon allegedly to Jordan aboard the Rhosus.

The minister at the time was Gebran Bassil, President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, who has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the explosion.

Spectrum had chartered the derelict Moldovan-flagged Rhosus — but the ship never actually set sail. 

The Lebanese investigation into the blast has faced systematic and blatant political obstruction from day one.

In its statement, TGS said it had carried out a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances that brought the Rhosus to the port of Beirut and that Spectrum had no responsibility for the explosion.

“We are confident that we will prevail in this matter,” TGS said.