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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

Laundered diesel fuel costing State 'up to €300million a year'

As many as 150 petrol stations around the country are selling illicit fuel, one TD has claimed.

Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE ILLICIT PRACTICE of ‘laundering’ agricultural diesel to evade fuel taxes is costing the State up to €300million a year, according to one TD.

As many as 150 petrol stations around the country are selling the illicit fuel, Fine Gael’s Ray Butler has claimed – adding that there are 15 to 20 such stations in Meath alone. He said the trade in ‘washed’ fuel is “killing legitimate businesses”.

Laundered or ‘washed’ fuel is agricultural diesel which has been treated to remove a green dye, and resold as fuel for commercial or private vehicles. Agricultural diesel is subject to a special lower rate of tax, allowing the scammers to profit from the difference.

The AA recently estimated that up to ten per cent of the total diesel market in Ireland could be laundered, saying the cost to the State coffers might be up to €200million annually.

Speaking yesterday, Butler said the practice was widespread in his own constituency and nationwide.

Several local petrol station owners and a major petrol supplier in Meath West have outlined to me that there are approximately 15-20 filling stations in the area that are selling laundered diesel. This is killing legitimate businesses whose turn-over has diminished significantly as a result.

He said that “as soon as one illegal supplier is closed down, another takes the closed facility over”. The deputy added that local communities were key to reducing the illicit trade, and said: “While the possibility of cheaper fuel is understandably difficult to resist, I am asking communities to work with us on this and to cease from engaging in this activity.”

Read more: Raid on fuel laundering plant uncovers 5,000 litres of toxic waste>

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Michael Freeman

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