Ford highlights new marker testing in fight against diesel laundering

18 February 2016

The Minister was visiting an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) roadside checkpoint in Belfast where the hi-tech equipment was being used to test fuel in vehicles for the presence of a new marker resistant to laundering techniques used by criminal gangs.

David Ford, who is chair of the Organised Crime Task Force said: “Illicit diesel is estimated to make up 8% of the market share of diesel in Northern Ireland and costs the taxpayer around £50million each year in lost taxes. The new marker, which was introduced last year, has significantly improved HMRC’s capability of detecting this laundered fuel. This is a huge step forward against tackling this type of crime.

He added: “Criminals who continue to attempt to launder fuel also generate large quantities of waste by product which is toxic and requires costly processing before it can be disposed of. It presents real dangers to people, animals, wild life and water courses if it is dumped carelessly. There is also a significant cost to the public purse to clean up not only the waste but also to address any contamination issue.

“I would urge anyone buying fuel to think seriously about where they are buying it. They could be funding other forms of organised criminality such as drugs and people trafficking. If they are caught using this fuel they could also face prosecution and a heavy fine.”

Pat Curtis, National oils lead, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Since the launch of the new marker we have seen a significant reduction in the detection of laundering plants and dumping of waste material associated with laundering activities. For the year 2014-15 a total of 35 plants (27 in Northern Ireland) were detected. For the period April to December 2015 only 18(12 in Northern Ireland) have been detected.

“While we are still in the evaluation process, the new marker has led to considerable operational success and the limited data points to a shift away from illicit laundering.”

HMRC will continue to monitor the success of the new fuel marker, to make sure it is delivering results in the fight against fuel fraud. The new equipment is being installed in all of HMRC's fleet of 49 Road Fuel Testing Unit vehicles throughout the UK and used to analyse fuel samples taken at the roadside and at filling stations.