Illicit motor fuel: Why so few convictions?

IT is a mystery to most ordinary people why there have been so few convictions or meaningful sanctions imposed on people involved in selling illicit or doctored motor fuels. 

It is, after all, not that easy to move vast quantities of laundered diesel around the country without being noticed.

It is hardly an enterprise that can be carried out as discreetly as, say, selling illicit tobacco.

Nevertheless, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has recorded that 137 petrol stations have been closed for breaches of licensing conditions, including fuel laundering, since 2011.

In that time more than 3m litres of fuel have been seized and 31 fuel laundering operations closed down.

Those who run these operations, and as is usual with nearly all organised criminality on this island there are strong links to lapsed members of the Provisional IRA, might like to be seen as Robin Hood figures but they make a significant impact on excise revenues and their plants are responsible for significant environmental damage.

A new ‘marker’ to identify ‘green’ agricultural/industrial use diesel that has been laundered is to be introduced in Ireland and Britain at the end of March and this must be welcomed.

It might be easier to think Government was serious about confronting these criminals if a few long-term sentences were handed down and the Criminal Assets Bureau was encouraged to seize ill-gotten gains.


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