28/06/2004

Customs officers in fuel seizure success

Customs officers have seized ten buses, two taxis and 4,400 litres of fuel during a series of operations in Counties Tyrone, Down and Antrim on Friday, they revealed today.

Customs specialist road fuel officers carried out the operation which targeted illegal fuel use by commercial transport companies. This follows the seizure of five fuel tankers in a similar operation in Belfast last Wednesday.

In the Kilkeel area, one bus and 1,800 litres of laundered fuel were seized while in Newry two buses and two taxis were seized, two of which have been restored pending further enquiries. Close to 1,600 litres of contaminated fuel were also seized.

In Belfast, meanwhile, seven buses were seized following onsite fuel tests and 1,000 litres of contaminated fuel were seized from a storage tank. Enquiries into the fuel supplier are being carried out and all the companies involved will face audit for previous misuse.

Customs Head of Detection Northern Ireland Colin McAllister said: “These operations are ongoing as part of our activity to target the use of illegal fuel in the commercial sector, which undermines honest businesses and robs the honest taxpayer of funds which should go into public services.

"Companies willing to use illegal fuel have an unfair advantage and by fraudulently undercutting legitimate companies are making it more difficult for them to compete for business.

“Enquiries are ongoing into the illegal fuel use detected. It is no longer the case that using illegal fuel is worth the risk. All companies who have commercial vehicles detected will face audit and could be liable to heavier fines in respect of previous misuse.”

(MB)

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