ONE man has been arrested following the discovery of a “huckster” site and fuel laundering plant in the Pomeroy area.
According to HM Revenue and Customs, the plant was capable of producing 14,000 litres of illicit fuel every week, evading £10,000 in duty.
Pumps and other equipment were seized during the incident, which occurred on Wednesday.
HMRC, assisted by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), searched a number of sheds at the rear of a private residence.
In one shed, HMRC found and dismantled a laundering plant, whilst searches of a second shed revealed an illegal filling station or huckster site suspected of selling illicit fuel at a reduced price.
Customs officials from France and Slovenia who were visiting HMRC in Northern Ireland to learn about the work that officers do to combat this type of fraud, and to share technical knowledge and expertise, also accompanied officers at the site.
Pat Curtis, National Oils Co-ordinator, HMRC, said:
“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime but supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities. The only winners are the criminals who are profiting at the expense of honest businesses. They are endangering the future viability of our legitimate fuel retail service.
“We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), to stop the damage this criminal activity causes, and we would encourage anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to fuel fraud to contact our Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Bojan Kolar, Customs Investigations Officer with the Customs Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, added:
“As a follow up to the first ever workshop in Europe on ‘Tackling the illicit trade in fuel oils’ hosted by HM Revenue & Customs in March, I am here visiting colleagues in Northern Ireland to share their experiences and best practice. We are aware of some fuel fraud in Slovenia and it’s been very educational to see the type of work done here.”