Revenue and customs together with HMRC in the UK have revealed a new weapon in a bid to foil illegal fuel laundering both north and south of the Border.
The breakthrough has come following a joint procurement process held by the Revenue and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They have identified a new product to mark rebated fuels, including what is commonly known as green diesel in Ireland
During a rigorous joint UK / Ireland evaluation, the chosen marker, which will be produced by Dow Chemical Company, proved significantly more effective than the current markers on the basis of laboratory testing. This testing found that it was highly resistant to known laundering techniques. It will be implemented in both countries following consultation with the oil industry and other affected sectors and will be used alongside the current marker mix.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat , Principal Officer in the Industrial Taxes Division, Niall Butler, said the new chemical marker will be effectively impossible to remove.
“The old dye marker will remain in place but a new chemical marker, that works on a molecular level, will be effectively impossible to remove.
“The old dyes have been there for 20 years now and will continue to be used. However, where they can be laundering out using rudimentary compounds, this new chemical will not be able to be removed.”
Revenue have now entered a consultation stage in which introducing the product into the oil industry will be worked out. “So far it has been very positive,” says Mr Butler. “This was a joint project where we and the HMRC invited tenders from around the world to come up with a solution to make a chemical marker that could not be removed. That was back in 2010.
“We are entering a consultation period with the industry now but we hope to start rolling out the new marker within 12 months.”
Speaking about the new marker, Revenue Chairman Josephine Feehily said: “Fuel laundering has many detrimental consequences, not least its significant impact on the Exchequer. While we have introduced many initiatives in recent years to tackle this problem, including more rigorous supply chain controls as well as robust enforcement actions, the introduction of the new fuel marker is an important element of our strategy in tackling this crime.”
Of course, the legitimate trade can also contribute to closing down illicit outlets by providing any information they may have on the sale of laundered diesel. They should report this through their representative associations to Revenue. Other businesses or members of the public that have any information regarding illicit fuel should contact their local Revenue office in confidence.”.
Labour TD Gerald Nash said the move was a major set back for criminals.
““This will be a cross-border initiative between the Revenue Commissioners and HM Revenue & Customs. The existing dyes can be removed relatively easily and this is resulting in a huge loss of revenue to the state, damaged cars for innocent drivers and dreadful pollution problems from the resulting sludge, which is often just dumped into streams and drains.
“The new marker will be much more difficult to remove and will prove a major setback to these criminals, many of whom have paramilitary connections.
“This is just one element of the campaign against these criminals, but I would like to see the problem being treated with the same urgency as we would drugs and other gangland activities.
“Make no mistake, fuel laundering is in the hands of major professional criminal gangs but unfortunately sentencing does not always reflect that.