Belfast Telegraph

Paisley demands launderers stopped

Efforts to combat fuel launderers in Northern Ireland are outdated, it has been claimed.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said millions of pounds worth of duty were being lost to criminals, and Revenue and Customs needed to do more. Up to £160 million a year was lost but that included legitimate cross-border shopping.

Mike Norgrove, a Revenue and Customs director, said the amount of illegal activity was not increasing and defended his colleagues' efforts.

Mr Paisley told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: "In Northern Ireland as a whole you seem to have 18th century tools to deal with a 21st century problem.

"That is not good enough, we want to see these so-and-sos stopped dead in their tracks."

He said a product had been introduced in Brazil which made fuel more difficult to "clean" of marker and asked why it was not in use here.

There have been 14 major seizures of fuel laundering plants over the last year involving multi-million pound operations.

Mr Norgrove said: "We have no evidence to suggest that this is increasing. These guys (staff) are taking out more laundering plants than ever before but there will always be an incentive to criminals."

He said it could be a costly operation to introduce a new fuel marker which criminals may be able to erase in the future.

This month, 11 properties were searched and a laundering plant capable of producing 18 million litres of illicit fuel a year was dismantled in County Monaghan.

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