Ireland 'is now a fraudster's paradise' for clocked cars
Ireland has become a fraudster's paradise for the sale of clocked and written off cars from the UK, Volkswagen and other major car dealers have warned the Government.
They said it must do more to clamp down on rogue traders capitalising on cheap sterling prices and targeting the Irish market with dangerous cars. However, the government has admitted it has no power to stop cross-border sales until after Britain leaves the EU.
Rogue dealers are using specialist software to lower car mileage figures before selling them on. Some sellers are clocking cars before MOT tests (the UK's NCT equivalent) to make the new figures look more genuine.
Last week the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission announced it was conducting unannounced inspections of car dealers to root out traders selling crashed and clocked cars. In a ministerial briefing note from the Department of Finance seen by the Sunday Independent the Government has conceded it cannot halt the influx of UK cars until after Britain exits the EU.
The number of cars being imported from the UK has rocketed since the Brexit vote last June as buyers look across the Border and the Irish Sea for cheaper used cars instead of new models at home.
New car sales in February were down 21pc compared to 2016 and 7.6pc in March compared to last year. The number of used cars imported to Ireland has soared by 68pc since the Brexit vote compared to the previous corresponding period.
Briefing documents prepared for Junior Finance Minister Eoghan Murphy show there has been concern in his department about the impact sterling prices have on the Irish car market. It notes the problem has been keenly felt in border counties.
"The interim period between the vote to exit and the UK actually leaving the EU, when the UK is still in the single market, is a time when we have little if any scope to address cross border concerns."
Another note given to the minister ahead of a meeting with major car industry figures highlights criminals and tax cheats are selling illicit UK imports here. The note was presented by Volkswagen Group Ireland's managing director Lars Himmer and three other major car dealers.
"Ireland has become a fraudster's paradise and a dumping ground for cars the British have classified as unsafe," it said.
"It is also possible for fraudulent traders to defraud Revenue Commissioners of VAT paid on cars imported from the UK. This situation has existed for many years and should be stopped immediately."