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Three arrests in fuel fraud raids

Press release -

Three arrests in fuel fraud raids

Three men have been arrested and a suspected fuel laundering plant dismantled as part of an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation into a suspected multi-million pound fuel fraud.

More than 50 HMRC officers, supported by North Wales Police and Police Service of Northern Ireland, carried out simultaneous searches of nine business and four residential addresses in Stoke, Crewe, Manchester, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Devon and Northern Ireland on Thursday 13 September 2018.

A suspected fuel laundering plant was dismantled in south Armagh and 22,500 litres of fuel seized, along with specialised equipment suspected of being used in the laundering process.

It’s believed that the suspected laundering plant had the capacity to produce 20 million litres of illicit fuel a year, potentially evading £11 million in revenue.

Tracey Noon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“The illicit trade in laundered fuel is a serious crime and one we are determined to detect and disrupt.

“We remain alert to the often dangerous methods and efforts of criminals to remove the government markers from rebated fuel.

“Given that laundering plants have been found adjacent to homes and retail sites we would urge anyone with information about this dangerous activity to report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

The three men arrested were questioned by HMRC and have been released pending further enquiries. Investigations are ongoing.

Notes for editors

1.Details of the arrests and seizures in Northern Ireland:

  • One man, aged 31, was arrested in the Belfast area and a residential premises was searched in south Armagh. At this site, 22,500 litres of fuel was seized, along with 3,100 litres of marked gas oil, 350 litres of Kerosene, 12,700 litres of lubricant, two box lorries, a caddy van and a forklift were seized.
  • In the Greater Belfast area a further 6,500 litres of suspected laundered fuel was recovered from a retail site.

2.Details of the arrests and seizures in England:

  • One man, aged 31, was arrested at an address in the Crewe area, a residential and retail premises in Stoke were searched.
  • One man, aged 37, was arrested at an address in Surrey and four retail premises in Devon searched.
  • 3.Figures for 2016-17 estimate that the revenue loss from illicit use of fuel has now fallen to around £150 million in the UK, of which £40m relates to fraud in Northern Ireland.

4.HMRC targets fuel laundering as part of its comprehensive and dynamic anti-fraud oils strategy that has driven down the Northern Ireland diesel illicit market share from an estimated 19% in 2005-06 to 8% in 2015-16. The reduction in the illicit market share of GB diesel continues a long-term trend from 5% in 2005-06 to less than 1% in 2015-16.

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

6.Although red diesel is predominantly targeted, launderers have also sought to remove the marker from other rebated fuels - especially kerosene - primarily used for heating oil.

7.From 1 April 2015 the UK and Ireland introduced a new fuel marker, which is significantly more resistant to laundering than the existing markers.

8.Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact HMRC through the hotline on 0800 788 887 or at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.

9.HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

10.Follow HMRC's press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

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Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

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