Testing scheme to help curb illegal fuel trade

15 garages have signed up to the independent testing scheme to try and curb the illegal fuel trade

Independent scheme backed by Irish Petrol Retailers Association



22 August 2013

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Garage owners, trying to compete with criminal gangs who supply cheaper illegal fuel along the border, are backing a voluntary independent fuel testing scheme. Retailers, participating in the quality assurance project say they want motorists to "know we sell genuine fuel and we pay our taxes".

The scheme has been introduced by the Irish Petrol Retailers Association, which claims that fuel laundering is costing the exchequer €200 million a year. Ray Prunty, who has two filling stations in Castlebellingham in Co Louth, said: "It is all down to pricing and the guy selling illegal fuel has a 50 cents margin to play with while I have about 5 cents. With this scheme, motorists will know our fuel is good and we are tax and VAT compliant."

David Blevins, spokesman for the IPRA, said people involved in the fuel-laundering business had a lot of professional people employed in it. "It is an industry and it is controlled both sides of the border by criminal fraternities," said Blevins.

The quality assurance scheme was launched in Co Louth because "of requests from some local retailers", he said. It’s claimed that criminal gangs acquire green coloured agricultural diesel for 50c a litre, much less than what a legitimate auto diesel retails can purchase the fuel. The fuel is ‘laundered’ to remove the green dye and sold at a significant profit, while still under-cutting above-board garage owners.

Fuel-laundering, as well as cigarette smuggling, were traditionally associated with subversives for fundraising. The illegal industry, it has been claimed, has now been taken over by sophisticated criminal gangs. The 15 garages signed up so far in Louth have already met certain criteria, including not having been convicted of any Revenue offences.

The garages have already had their fuel tested to ensure it meets the legal Government specification. As a voluntary scheme, however, there is no obligation on fuel outlets to take part. However, participants will be subject to random, unannounced, testing, said Martin Boylan of Independent Laboratories in Dublin. The garages in the scheme will also have a verifiable audit trail, guaranteeing fuel products are authentic. An app will be available to show motorists the nearest forecourt that has signed up to the scheme.



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