With fuel prices at their lowest for years, you may think that there would be less profit in criminals laundering and selling fuel. Unfortunately, this is not the case, only recently, over 100 HMRC officers were involved in searches which led to the dismantling of two diesel laundering plants on the Wirral and in Kent and eight arrests.
At the Birkenhead laundering plant over 9,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel was removed along with equipment and chemicals. Three men from Merseyside were subsequently arrested. At premises in Ashford in Kent, 12,000 litres were removed along with chemicals, equipment and a fuel tanker. Capable of producing nearly 120,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel a day; the plants would evade almost £12.5 million in taxes a year
A further eight premises were searched with a further five men arrested in Essex, Lancashire and the West Midlands. All those arrested have been bailed until April 2015 pending further enquiries. Investigations into the illegal fuel plants are continuing.
“It’s wrong that honest businesses should be undercut by criminals involved in making or selling laundered fuel,” said Sandra Smith, HMRC’s assistant director, criminal investigation.
If you are offered either kerosene or diesel at reduced rates then think again before handing over your money. These fuels are usually topped up with contaminants that could damage your vehicle, machinery or appliances.
Anyone with information about fuel fraud should call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000