A County Armagh landowner, who allowed his land to be used to launder diesel, has been handed a suspended prison sentence after he was investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Francis Gregory (49), of Concession Road, Crossmaglen, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, when he appeared at Laganside Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday, September 8).
In August 2014, HMRC officers discovered and dismantled a diesel laundering plant in a shed owned by Gregory, along with 18,700 litres of laundered fuel.
He was found guilty in May of one charge of having in his possession or under his control articles for use in the course of or in connection with any fraud, namely fuel laundering equipment, contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Fraud Act 2006.
Gregory was also found guilty on one charge of having made, adapted, supplied or offered to supply an article; knowing that it was designed or adapted for use in the course of or in connection with fraud, or intending it to be used to commit, or assist in the commission of, fraud, namely fuel laundering equipment, contrary to Section 7 (1) (a) and (b) of the Fraud Act 2006.
Steve Tracey, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said, “Fuel fraudsters do not act alone and need the help of landowners like Gregory to facilitate their fraud by allowing laundering plants to be concealed on their property. This prosecution shows that we are determined to tackle not only those suspected of fraud, but also those who we believe help them do it.
“This is not just an attack on legitimate retailers and road hauliers, but also ordinary taxpayers and local ratepayers. The total clean-up costs for the laundering plant in this case were in excess of £14,000. Not only are we missing out on the stolen tax that ends up in the pockets of the criminals, we are also paying for the removal and disposal of the harmful waste.”
He added, “Anyone with information about this type of activity should contact HMRC on our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”