Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (182)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

182. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible to have the sale of washed diesel stopped; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30641/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners who have responsibility for the collection of mineral oil tax that they are very aware of the threat that fuel laundering and the sale of laundered product poses both to the exchequer and to legitimate businesses. Revenue takes every opportunity to remind motorists and the public generally that, in addition to its impact on the exchequer and legitimate trade, they should be aware of the risks posed to their vehicles by using laundered fuel and the fact that sourcing fuel in this way is funding criminal activity. Revenue has made action against fuel laundering one of its priorities and is implementing a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem. This strategy included strengthening the licensing conditions for auto-fuel traders in 2011 and the introduction of a new licensing system for marked fuel traders last October. In addition, since January, all licensed fuel traders are required to make electronic returns to Revenue of their fuel transactions each month. These measures are designed to make it difficult for fuel criminals to source marked fuel for laundering and to get laundered product onto the market. Analysis of the monthly returns of fuel trading will enable Revenue to identify suspicious or anomalous fuel transactions and patterns of distribution. Analysis of the first few months of returns data is well advanced and traders involved in suspicious activity will be investigated and if they are unable to account properly for the source or disposal of product will face revocation of their licence, tax assessment and prosecution where appropriate.

In addition, Revenue and HM Revenue and Customs in the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2012 on a joint approach to finding a more effective marker for use in both jurisdictions. A number of proposals for a new marker submitted in response to an Invitation to Make Submissions are currently being evaluated. The outcome of this process is expected later this year.

Revenue, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, continues to intensify enforcement action against fuel fraud. Revenue’s strategy has already yielded significant results to date. In the past two years 97 filling stations throughout the State were closed for breaches of licensing conditions. Since the beginning of 2010, over 2.5 million litres of fuel have been seized and 29 oil laundries detected and closed down, including five oil laundries in 2013 to date.

I strongly support the work of Revenue in tackling diesel laundering and a critical step in tackling this trade is to close down the supply chain and the retail outlets that sell washed diesel. Revenue has worked closely with the industry in developing and implementing its current strategy.

The legitimate retail trade can also contribute to closing down this illegitimate trade by providing information on the outlets that are selling washed diesel. Revenue chairs the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group (HEMG) and has established Regional sub-groups of the HEMG to facilitate the reporting of information by traders through their representative associations. Retailers who suspect or have evidence that laundered diesel is being sold in their area should report this through their representative associations to the Revenue. Such reports are treated as confidential and are fully investigated by Revenue.