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Tax staff probed after raids reveal oil-laundry plants

TWO Revenue workers are under investigation after massive oil-laundering plants were discovered close to their homes.

Gardai are expected to question the staff members over possible knowledge about the plants.

The Herald revealed yesterday how Customs officials, backed by gardai, stormed a property in Dundalk, Co Louth, following a surveillance operation.

It has now emerged that two Revenue officials are under investigation after the plant was discovered close to their homes. A spokesperson for the Revenue Commissioners today said the investigation was in its "early stages".

The illegal plant was one of two discovered yesterday -- they had the combined capacity to produce 22 million litres of fuel a year.

In the first find, Customs officers were supported by the Garda Regional Support Unit as they raided a major oil laundry using bleaching agent at Tatebane, Hackballscross, close to Dundalk, yesterday morning.

Some 30,000 litres of illicit fuel, 53 bags of bleaching earth, one tanker and three lorries, one of which contained a concealed tank for the transportation of laundered fuel, were seized at the site.

Other equipment was dismantled and taken away for examination. A 'shebeen' and some 36 tonnes of toxic waste were also discovered by officials leading the investigation.







Charged

Two men from Northern Ireland appeared in court yesterday over alleged fuel laundering.

Niall Nolan (21), of Craigh Place, Silverbridge, Co Armagh, and Declan Loye (21), of Longfield Heights, Forkhill, Newry, Co Down, are charged with being knowingly concerned in the removing or attempting to remove of a proscribed marker.

In each case the Sstate solicitor for Louth, Fergus Mullen, sought a four-week adjournment and said there was no objection to bail.

Both men were remanded on their own bail of €9,000.

Judge Flann Brennan adjourned the cases to Dundalk District Court sitting on November 21.

In a separate operation, gardai and Customs officials discovered another oil laundry at Courtbane, also in Dundalk.

Some 21,000 litres of illicit fuel, quantities of oil and bleaching earth, one tanker, a van and equipment were seized in a shed at the back of a private house. Officers also discovered four tonnes of toxic waste.

The two operations discovered yesterday represented a potential loss to the exchequer of €11m a year.

hnews@herald.ie


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