As part of activity to combat fuel fraud three men have been arrested and a number of vehicles seized in Northern Ireland by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC officers, accompanied by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, searched a business address in Co Tyrone during the night of March 19. Six commercial and one private vehicle were seized, along with nearly 3,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel.

Mike Parkinson, assistant director, HMRC said: “The success of multi-agency working is crucial to tackling the problem of commercial misuse of fuel fraud. We are in difficult times for businesses economically and it is impossible for legitimate traders to compete on an unfair playing field. We owe it to them to support them in any way we can.

“Anyone with information about the production, storage or sale of illicit fuel should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Minister David Ford, who is also chair of the Organised Crime Task Force in Northern Ireland said: “Fuel laundering is a scourge on our society. In addition to the money lost to the public sector there is the effect on legitimate business and on the environment through the dumping of laundering waste.

“HMRC fights fuel fraud on a wide range of fronts, from specialist units performing checks on drivers and fuel storage tanks to raids on suspected laundering plants. This is a positive step forward in the fight against fuel laundering and organised crime.”

The three men, all from Co Tyrone, have been released on bail and investigations are continuing.