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Newry man a kingpin in massive fuel fraud

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A County Down man is among seven people convicted of running one of the UK’s biggest ever fuel laundering operations.

Paul Eugene Kelly from Newry was found guilty of conspiring to fraudulently evade excise duty on hydrocarbon oil at a court in England yesterday.

The 41-year-old company director was part of a criminal gang which Customs officials claimed ran one of the most prolific illegal fuel operations ever seen in England and which could have cost the taxpayer over £2m in lost excise duty and VAT.

The gang, whose criminal operation centred on the distribution of illegally imported mixed oil, together with the theft of hundreds of thousands of litres of petrol and diesel from one of the UK’s largest oil refinery’s, were caught by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators.

Convicting the gang at Leeds Crown Court Judge Justice Macgill said: “I commend HMRC for their efforts in bringing this case to justice, this is a very serious crime.”

The judge imposed jail terms totalling 10 years and eight months for five of the fraudsters, however, Kelly will be sentenced at a later date.

Yorkshire-based businessmen Paul Kelly and Derek Little used their Euro Commodities (UK) Ltd company to organise and fund a criminal plot to illegally import base oil from Europe and adapt it for use in UK road vehicles.

Samples of fuel tested were found to contain traces of Kerosene, lube oil, vegetable oil and euro markers from duty rebated fuels.

HMRC spokesman Peter Hollier said: “Motorists were paying the full price for sub-standard or stolen fuel at one of the many filling stations supplied with illegal fuel. Given the cocktails of fuel supplied, motorists were very much the victims of this fraud.

“The sentences passed down reflect the seriousness of the crime and should serve as a deterrent.”

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