Belfast Telegraph

Biggest-ever illegal fuel plant smashed

By Brian Hutton

Revenue officials in the Republic have uncovered what has been described as the biggest-ever illegal fuel laundering plant anywhere in Ireland.

One man from Northern Ireland and three others were arrested during a wave of raids targeting cross-border laundering.

Around 140,000 litres of diesel were seized during the operation at Corragarry, near Castleblaney, Co Monaghan.

"While we are still assessing the potency of the illicit operation it is clear this is the biggest illegal fuel laundering plant to be located on either side of the border," one officer said.

Searches led by Customs officers were also carried out at five filling stations in Loughrea, Co Galway; Birr, Co Offaly; Rathfarnham in Dublin; Athlone, Co Westmeath and Roscommon.

Two men, one in his 30s from Northern Ireland and one in his 20s, were arrested at the plant and taken to Monaghan Garda station. Two other men, both aged in their 40s, were arrested in the operations at filling stations in Birr and Roscommon.

All are being held under section four of the Republic's Criminal Justice Act.

A Garda spokesman said a number of other people have also been questioned.

There were further raids at five addresses in counties Armagh and Tyrone in connection with the probe into fuel fraud and money laundering. Business records and more than £30,000 were seized.

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The Monaghan fuel plant could clean an estimated 18m litres of fuel a year with a potential tax loss of €9m (£7.9m) for the Republic.

Customs said a laundering operation was under way during the raid.

Three tankers were seized as well as two vans, a box lorry and an articulated lorry.

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