A FUEL laundering plant with the capacity to produce more than two million litres of illicit diesel a year and evade £1.3m in excise duty per annum has been uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Banbridge.

HMRC, accompanied by the PSNI, raided commercial premises in Banbridge on Tuesday morning. Officers seized 6,000 litres of fuel and a commercial vehicle and dismantled the laundering equipment on site. It is estimated that the plant could have produced 6,000 litres of illegally laundered fuel a day, or 2.19 million litres a year.

Officials from HMRC remained tight-lipped, however, on where the site was in the town.

John Whiting, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said, “Fuel laundering is dangerous in every way - and those involved show complete disregard for anything other than profit.

“There is a risk to other road users from the transport of laundered fuel, as the vehicles used to do so are often unsafe. There is also damage to the environment, as the by-products from the laundering process can cause devastation and leave the public with a hefty clean-up bill. Illicit fuel also damages engines and undercuts honest businesses.

“HMRC will continue to investigate and dismantle laundering plants. Anyone with information about fuel laundering can help us do so by contacting our Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

A 63 year old man was arrested and has been released on bail. Enquiries are ongoing.