The boss of a major filling station chain has spoken out amid calls from politicians for HM Revenue and Customs to name hundreds of forecourts caught selling illegal fuel.
The controversy comes after media reports that some 467 stations have been detected selling illegal fuel, but have not been named.
Brian Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer of The Maxol Group, yesterday called for greater transparency around the identity of the filling stations and for firmer action against offenders.
He said he was “deeply alarmed to find out that almost 467 filling stations in Northern Ireland have been caught selling illicit fuel over the last four years. We do not know which filling stations are repeat offenders but given that there are only 559 service stations in Northern Ireland we find this figure extremely concerning.”
UUP MLA Tom Elliott said that if a filling station is found to be stocking illegal fuel it gets raided but “nobody gets charged, nobody is found guilty and nobody is named”.
He added: “So just what’s to stop the same premises doing the same thing again a week later? Absolutely nothing.”
He said nobody has been jailed for fuel laundering in Northern Ireland for 11 years.
DUP MEP Diane Dodds has said it was “utterly bizarre” that HMRC is declining to publish the names of the filling stations.
“Making the names public would be good for consumers as they would know what filling stations are charlatans and conmen,” she added.
HMRC said last night: “We have not named these retail sites for legal reasons.”