Organised criminals involved in the illegal laundering of fuel will find it harder to offload their illicit product onto the market, due to new measures to be introduced by the Revenue Commissioners in the New Year, according to Jim Higgins MEP, the sole Irish member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee.
“From January 2013, Revenue will require all licensed fuel traders to make monthly returns of fuel movements and transactions. These new control measures will create a more transparent system, making it more difficult for criminals to source marked fuel for laundering or put laundered fuel onto the market,” Mr Higgins said today.
Diesel designated for agricultural or industrial purposes is privy to lower tax and duty rates and is dyed green as a ‘marker’ to differentiate it from regular fuel. Criminals use acid to wash the dye from the agri-fuel so they can pass it off as regular, full-priced diesel. The toxic waste that results from diesel washing is often dumped along the border, with clean-up operations in counties Monaghan and Louth already costing the taxpayer in excess over €4 million.
“I have been vocal in my calls for a complete overhaul of the current chemical marker system that dates back to the 1950s. So I am delighted to confirm that the Revenue, in cooperation with their UK counterparts, is now considering a new and more effective marker for rebated fuel which could be implemented in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Recommendations on this new marker will be evaluated in the New Year.”
Mr Higgins says that while the incidents of fuel laundering and the hazardous dumping of diesel wash continue to plague the border region of his North West constituency, progress is being made: “Over the last two years, more than 70 filling stations have been closed, over two million litres of fuel have been seized and 20 oil laundries have been detected and closed.”
Mr Higgins continued: “Revenue is confident that the new 2013 measures will have a significant further impact on illegal fuel operations. I welcome this concrete action by Revenue officials and commend the ongoing close cooperation between all relevant Irish Government departments and their Northern/UK counterparts via the Border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group.”