Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (137)

Niall Collins

Question:

137. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken to tackle illicit fuel smuggling in the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39600/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are very conscious of the threat that illicit fuel smuggling poses to the Exchequer and to legitimate business and they have adopted a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem. This strategy includes the following elements:

- The licensing regime for auto fuel traders was strengthened with effect from September 2011 to limit the ability of the fuel criminals to get laundered fuel onto the market;

- A new licensing regime was introduced for marked fuel traders in October 2012, which is designed to limit the ability of criminals to source marked fuel for laundering;

- Following a significant investment in the required IT systems, new supply chain controls were introduced from January 2013. These controls require all licensed fuel traders, whether dealing in road fuel or marked fuel, to make monthly electronic returns to Revenue of their fuel transactions. Revenue is using this data to identify suspicious or anomalous transactions and patterns of distribution that will support robust follow-up enforcement action where necessary;

- An intensified targeting, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, of enforcement action against suspected fuel laundering operations; and

- Following discussions with HM Revenue & Customs in the UK on regulatory measures to tackle the problem, the two administrations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2012 on a joint approach to finding a more effective marker for use in both jurisdictions. Submissions on potential new markers are currently being evaluated.

Revenue's enforcement strategy in the fuel sector has already yielded significant results. To date in 2013, Revenue has seized 168,050 litres of mineral oil in operations carried out in the border area. They have also uncovered six Oil Laundries, seized 114,000 litres of laundered fuel, four tankers, six lorries and fifteen other vehicles. One person was arrested during the course of these operations, which play a crucial role in cutting off the supply of laundered and illicit fuel.

Revenue will maintain its approach of seizing illicit fuel and closing down retail outlets that do not have the required licence or fail to comply with licence requirements.