The two red diesel laundering plants were discovered in Birkenhead, Merseyside and Ashford, Kent
Two red diesel laundering plants, capable of producing nearly 120,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel a day, have been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Red diesel is marked for use in marine vessels and benefits from a lower rate of tax. Laundered fuel is red (or green) diesel, which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the government marker.
HMRC officers, accompanied by Merseyside Police, searched three premises on the Wirral and one in Liverpool, where they discovered a laundering plant in the Birkenhead area on 4 December.
More than 9,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel were removed from the site, along with equipment and chemicals. Three men from Merseyside were arrested in connection with the find.
A second laundering plant was discovered after HMRC searched premises in Ashford, Kent. Officers removed 12,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel from this site, dismantled the laundering plant and seized chemicals, equipment and separately a fuel tanker.
The plants were capable of producing enough illicit fuel to evade almost £12.5million in taxes a year.
The operation involved over 100 HMRC officers, assisted by Merseyside, Lancashire, Essex, Kent, West Midlands and Staffordshire police forces. A further eight premises were searched during the activity and another five men were arrested in Essex, Lancashire and the West Midlands.
The arrests included a 61-year-old man from Meols, Wirral; a 41-year-old man from Wallasey, Wirral; a 39-year-old man from Liverpool, Merseyside: a 53-year-old man from Birmingham, West Midlands; a 50-year-old man from Basildon, Essex; a 38-year-old man from Stoke, Staffordshire and two men, aged 37 and 45 from Accrington, Lancashire.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation for HMRC, said: ‘It is wrong that honest businesses should be undercut by criminals involved in making or selling laundered fuel. Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities.
‘Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, involving significant safety and environmental issues. As taxpayers and local ratepayers, not only are we missing out on the stolen tax that ends up the pockets of the criminals, we are also paying the substantial clean-up and disposal costs. Anyone with information about fuel fraud should call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.’
All those arrested have been bailed until April 2015 pending further enquiries. Investigations into the illegal fuel plants are continuing.
Another red diesel case
HMRC has also announced that a County Down, Northern Ireland filling station suspected of selling illicit fuel has had its forecourt pumps removed.
HMRC worked with specialist contractors to remove the fuel pumps and an over-ground fuel storage tank safely. At a second site, also in Co Down, HMRC visited an oil storage depot where they removed over 4,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel.
Investigations into the filling station and storage site are ongoing.
Read more marked diesel news stories here:
The European Commission is referring Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not properly applying the…
The European Commission intends to take UK government to the European Court of Justice ‘for not properly applying the rules…
Culmination of infringement proceedings over the UK’s use of marked ‘red’ fuel
Visiting British leisure craft can now use red diesel in Belgian waters subject to conditions
The Royal Belgian Sailing Club says stained diesel is 'no longer an issue for British yachtsmen'
There's no guarantee red diesel won't contain FAME biofuels
PBO & MBM quiz RYA Head of Government Affairs in web broadcast today