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New ‘marker’ to help tackle fuel laundering

FTA welcomes introduction of new product to ‘mark’ rebated fuels such as off-highway red diesel

‘THIS is good news and will help reduce fuel laundering,’ was the response from the Freight Transport Association (FTA) following the announcement by the UK and Ireland governments that they are to introduce a marker that will help tackle fuel fraud.

The product will be used to mark rebated fuels, including the off-road diesel commonly known in the UK as ‘red diesel’, in a move that will boost both countries’ fight against illegal fuel laundering.

 

The marker will help HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Irish Revenue Commissioners tackle the criminal market in off-road diesel, which is marked with a red dye in the UK and a green dye in Ireland, and also kerosene, primarily used for heating oil.

Seamus Leheny, the FTA’s policy & membership relations manager - Northern Ireland, said: ‘FTA welcomes any effort that can help reduce or eliminate fuel laundering, and we are sure the announcement of this marker will go a long way towards helping.’

HMRC has reported that it is stepping up its fight against fraud, stating that the new marker will make rebated fuel much harder for fraudsters to ‘launder’ and sell on at a profit, adding that the introduction of a more robust marker will ensure it is far harder to remove.

The FTA has long campaigned against fuel laundering, outlining the enormous financial loss to HMRC and the Irish Revenue through the use of illicit and washed diesel, and the huge damage the issue causes to compliant operators.

Mr Leheny added: ‘Fuel represents approximately 40% of operating costs for transport operators, hence legitimate operators in Northern Ireland are at a distinct disadvantage when competing against those that illegally use laundered diesel.’

The FTA has outlined suggested accompanying measures that it considers are also required, including: removal of haulage licences from operators found using laundered fuel; confiscation and sale of any vehicles found using laundered fuel, even where it is a first-time offence; confiscation and sale of land/premises where fuel laundering is taking place, even where it is a first-time offence; and minimum prison sentencing for those involved in fuel laundering.

Mr Leheny concluded: ‘Vigilance will be key in helping this marker to work successfully. Fuel launderers are determined to ‘out-smart’ such initiatives and the FTA is calling on the authorities to make enforcement measures against such criminal activities robust.’

The use of illicit diesel is estimated to represent 12% of the market share in Northern Ireland and about 2% in the rest of the UK.

 

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