Fuel laundering plant dismantled by HMRC

An image of the plant, supplied by HMRC
An image of the plant, supplied by HMRC

An HMRC investigation has led to the dismantling of a fuel laundering plant in south Armagh with the capacity to produce 20 million litres of illicit fuel a year.

Three men were arrested including a 31-year-old in Belfast and two men in England, a 31-year-old in Crewe and a 37-year-old in Surrey.

More than 50 HMRC officers, supported by the PSNI and North Wales police, carried out simultaneous searches of nine business and four residential addresses in England and NI last Thursday.

In south Armagh, at the suspected laundering plant, 22,500 litres of fuel was seized, along with specialised equipment suspected of being used in the laundering process.

In the Greater Belfast area a further 6,500 litres of suspected laundered fuel was recovered from a retail site.

HMRC believes the plant had the capacity to produce 20 million litres of illicit fuel a year, potentially evading £11 million in revenue.

Tracey Noon, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The illicit trade in laundered fuel is a serious crime and one we are determined to detect and disrupt. We remain alert to the often dangerous methods and efforts of criminals to remove the government markers from rebated fuel.

“Given that laundering plants have been found adjacent to homes and retail sites we would urge anyone with information about this dangerous activity to report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline (0800 788 887).”

The three men arrested were questioned by HMRC and have been released pending further inquiries.