Customs raid illicit fuel operation

Two men from County Armagh have been arrested and a number of vehicles seized at a laundering plant capable of evading around £12 million in taxes.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers and the Police Service of Northern Ireland searched industrial premises in the Newtownhamilton area yesterday and discovered the laundering plant which could produce over 18 million litres of illicit fuel a year. A flat bed lorry with a concealed tank, which was thought to be used to transport illegal fuel, and a number of fuel tankers were seized during the operation.

John Whiting, Assistant Director, HMRC, said:figures-tw7lrmjhjq6dedrqssi5

“Our activity yesterday has stopped a large amount of illicit fuel entering the legitimate market, preventing further revenue loss and helping legitimate traders fight unfair competition. It is wrong that honest businesses should be undercut by criminals and those involved in making or selling laundered fuel. This is organised criminality.

“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities. If anyone has information about fuel fraud we would encourage them to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Pumps, equipment and 27,000 litres of illicit fuel were removed from the site.

Both men were questioned by HMRC and have been released on bail. Investigations are continuing.

Notes:

1.  Diesel laundering waste is often dumped indiscriminately in the countryside or next to the road with no care for the pollution it can cause to land or waterways. Typically the waste is dumped in agricultural areas or forests, chosen for their remoteness to avoid detection.

2.  Laundered fuel is red (or green) diesel, which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the Government marker. The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars.