David Ford, Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force and Minister of Justice, has highlighted the importance of international co-operation in tackling fuel fraud.
The Minister was speaking to delegates from 27 countries across Europe who were attending a workshop on tackling the illicit trade in fuel oils. The event is being hosted by HMRC in Belfast and funded by the Fiscalis EU co-operation programme.
David Ford said: “This is a really valuable opportunity to strengthen co-operation across European borders against this organised crime. One aim is to ensure that we are all combining our resources in tackling these criminals, another to learn lessons on best practice and effective strategies from one another.
“Organised criminals, who launder, smuggle and stretch fuel are cheating everyone, including their own communities, by diverting money from legitimate businesses and the public purse. Their income may also be used to fund other organised crime such as drugs and human trafficking. The environmental damage caused by the associated waste dumping is also a significant issue in many areas and the clean-up is another cost to the taxpayer, never mind the potential environmental damage.
“This important conference also gives the HMRC and the OCTF an opportunity to highlight the excellent work done, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners in the Republic, to procure and introduce a new marker. The message to criminals is, “”. The message to the public is to be vigilant and to report suspicions.”
Pat Curtis, National Oils Co-ordinator, Specialist Investigations, HMRC, said:
“The Illicit trade in fuel oils constitutes a major threat to the effectiveness of fuel taxation and the functioning of the internal market throughout the EU.
“There are clear indications that professional and organised gangs are researching and developing new and better ways to counterfeit fuel and law enforcement agencies across Europe regard this issue as a shared responsibility. This event will help to coordinate an EU-wide approach to strengthen existing detection techniques and control mechanisms.”
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