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24 July 2014, 13:10 | Updated: 24 July 2014, 13:17
Seven men and two women have been arrested across the South Coast for their involvement in a suspected £3 million fuel fraud.
Around 170 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers, assisted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and Sussex and Hampshire Police, searched 12 residential premises, 5 business premises and 2 petrol stations in East and West Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset yesterday, 23 July 2014.
The ongoing investigation is focused on the suspected illegal purchase and sale of rebated kerosene and biofuel to motorists as duty-paid road diesel. It is believed the fraud is worth an estimated £3 million in unpaid excise duty and VAT.
David Margree, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
"Motorists need to be aware that using illicit fuel can damage and destroy vehicle engines, has a detrimental effect on legitimate fuel traders and deprives the government of money used to fund public services.
"Anyone with information about fuel fraud or people involved in the sale, storage or distribution of illicit fuel can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000."
All those arrested were questioned by HMRC investigators and released on bail while enquiries continue.
Those arrested are:
- 1 man aged 46, from Hayling Island, Hampshire.
- 1 woman aged 48 from Pulborough, West Sussex.
- 1 woman aged 63 from Hastings, East Sussex.
- 3 men aged 45, 46 and 67 from Hastings, East Sussex.
- 1 man aged 43 from Romford, Essex.
- 2 men aged 43 and 46, from Belvedere, Greater London