Belfast Telegraph

Diesel seized in laundering swoop

Four men have been arrested during a wave of raids targeting cross-border fuel laundering.

Around 140,000 litres of diesel were seized during the operation in which a laundering plant was uncovered at Corragarry in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan.

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 at filling stations in Birr and Roscommon. All are being held under section four of the Criminal Justice Act.

A Garda spokesman said a number of other people have also been questioned under caution as part of the ongoing operation.

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 34,000 euro were seized.

The laundering operation is suspected of buying green or red diesel - cut price fuel for agricultural use - and cleaning the dyes from it before selling it on through a number of rented retail garage outlets.

The Monaghan plant had the capacity to clean an estimated 18 million litres of fuel a year with a potential loss of 9 million euro per annum to the public purse.

Customs said a laundering operation was under way at the time of the raid. Three tankers were also seized as well as two vans, a box lorry, a 40ft tanker and an articulated lorry with a combined value of 55,000 euro.

Bob Gaigerm of HM Revenue Customs in Northern Ireland said: "Serious and organised criminals are increasingly sophisticated and the measures they use to avoid detection are increasingly complex. They are attacking the tax system in many different ways with the aim of stealing huge amounts of revenue."

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