New cross-border group to tackle fuel fraudsters

A new specialist cross-border group is being established in a fresh bid to combat the multi-million pound fuel fraud business, it was revealed today.

The multi-agency body will include members of the Gardaí, Revenue and customs officers, the Criminal Assets Bureau and their counterparts in the North.

The Cross Border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group will, in the North, operate under the auspices of the Organised Crime Task Force [OCTF].

The new group, set up by Stormont Security Minister Paul Goggins, the chairman of the OCTF, will drive the war against the illegal fuel barons who cheat the North's exchequer out of hundreds of millions of pounds and pocket 50p for every litre of illicit fuel they sell.

The annual report of the OCTF published today said that in 2005/06 non-UK duty paid diesel accounted for 43% of the North's market share and non duty paid petrol 14% – with a total loss of revenue of £270m (€341m).

“Whilst legitimate cross-border shopping accounts for some of the revenue lost, deliberate oils fraud is believed to account for the vast majority,” said the report.

Meanwhile, criminal assets worth more than £35m (€44.5m) were frozen or seized by the authorities in the North last year, according to figures out today.

The annual report from the North's Organised Crime Task Force also says more than £4m (€5m) worth of illegal drugs was seized during the year, while the number of cash-in-transit robberies halved.

Paul Goggins says the authorities will continue to target criminal assets when it is not possible to bring offenders before the courts.

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