“THIS is not a victimless crime,” Fine Gael Senator Jim D’Arcy said when speaking in the Oireachtas about fuel laundering and smuggling.
“A good deal of revenue is being lost and people’s jobs are at risk,” Senator D’Arcy said. “Some legitimate dealers have had to close down because of this activity.”
Senator D’Arcy recalled the meeting held with the Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes.
It was attended by Louth county councillors Jim Lennon and Martin Murnaghan, as well as council officials at which assurances were given that the Government is determined to stamp out this activity.
Senator D’Arcy asked if any progress had been made on enforcing the law or issuing licenses or the development of a new marker?
“What is happening with the co-operation of the UK authorities? Senator D’Arcy asked.
He said if these things were done, it would help a good deal.
He said he realied there has been a reduction in the amount of waste quantities recovered by Louth County Council, from 76 tonnes per month in 2011 to an average of 50 tonnes per month in 2012, but it is still high and up from 6 tonnes per month in 2009.
In response the Minister of State for Small Business John Perry said the Revenue Commissioners are acutely aware of the threat posed by the illegal activity and tax evasion in Louth.
The most serious risk comes from the large-scale laundering of markers from diesel that is subject to a reduced rate of mineral oil tax on condition that it is not used in road vehicles.
Revenue collects €1.1 billion annually in excise duty from road diesel and the loss of tax revenue from this fraud is significant.
Naturally, this is not the only cost associated with this form of criminality. It also undermines the competitiveness of legitimate businesses, damages the environment, can damage consumers’ vehicles and sustains organised criminal gangs which are the prime movers in this illegality. For all of these reasons,
He said Revenue has an action plan which includes more control of oil distribution and introducing a more effective marker.
He also told Senator D’Arcy that the Revenue Commissioners have linked up with the UK authorities on this matter.
The cross-border fuel fraud group brings together representatives from several agencies, including An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, as well as the United Kingdom and Irish Revenue authorities.
“There has been excellent co-operation between all agencies,” the Minister said, “in sharing intelligence and identifying and investigating criminals involved in this fraud.”
The maximum fine is now of an amount not exceeding €126,970.
He said the licensing for road fuels has been tightened up to make it more difficult for launderers to get their product onto the market.
Thirty-two stations were shut down by Revenue in 2011 either because they did not have a licence or were in breach of licensing conditions and a further 20 outlets have been closed to date this year. This represents real progress and this important work is continuing.
The requirement to have a marked fuel trader’s licence comes into operation with effect from 1 October.
The Revenue Commissioners are the licensing authority and have power to refuse a licence.
The Minister said the legislative steps that have been taken, the work on developing a better
fuel marker, and full cross-Border co-operation, will go a long way to stamping out this “damaging form of criminality”.