WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on three individuals and a Malta-based company, accusing them of acting as a network of smugglers and contributing to instability in Libya.
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Faysal al-Wadi, accusing the Libyan national of having smuggled drugs and Libyan fuel into Malta.
Also blacklisted were two associates, Musbah Mohamad M Wadi and Nourddin Milood M Musbah, Malta-based company Alwefaq Ltd, and the vessel Maraya, which the Treasury said Wadi used in his alleged smuggling operations.
The Treasury said that "competition for control of smuggling routes, oil facilities, and transport nodes is a key driver of conflict in Libya and deprives the Libyan people of economic resources."
Thursday's action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
"Faysal al-Wadi and his associates have smuggled fuel from Libya and used Libya as a transit zone to smuggle illicit drugs," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich.
"The United States is committed to exposing illicit networks exploiting Libya’s resources for their own profit while hurting the Libyan people," he added.
Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since 2014, it has been split, with an internationally recognized government controlling the capital, Tripoli, and the northwest, while military leader Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi rules the east.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)