HMRC closes fuel laundering site

Two men have been arrested and a suspected fuel laundering facility dismantled as part of an HMRC investigation into what is believed to be a multi-million-pound fraud.

HMRC officers, supported by Police Service of Northern Ireland, searched an industrial site on the outskirts of Newry on 9 January. At the facility, 45,000 litres of fuel was seized, along with six large tanks, one rigid truck containing a 20,000-litre tank, a transit van, one 40ft fridge trailer, a 40ft curtainsided trailer and a car.

The suspected laundering plant had the potential to produce in excess of 10 million litres of illicit fuel a year, with the potential loss of £6.5m in revenue.

Steve Tracey, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, at HMRC, said: “Fuel launderers abandon harmful waste and transport fuel in vehicles that are unfit for purpose and unsafe. We believe criminals are experimenting with processes that carry a risk of explosion as they seek to defeat fuel markers.”

The men arrested were questioned by HMRC and have been released on bail. Investigations are ongoing.

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Bridgestone and TomTom to create fleet powerhouse

Bridgestone’s €910m (£793m) proposed purchase of TomTom Telematics (TTT) will create a commercial vehicle fleet powerhouse, according to the tyre manufacturer. The deal will bring together “the world’s largest tyre company with the number one provider of digital fleet solutions in Europe”, said Bridgestone.

Bridgestone said the purchase of TTT would grant access to the biggest European data platform of cars and trucks available, strengthening its offering, especially in virtual development and testing, as well as predictive modelling and connected tyres.
TTT makes WebFleet and NextFleet and has a user base of 50,000 customers across 860,000 vehicles, two thirds of which are commercial fleet.

Paolo Ferrari, CEO and president of Bridgestone EMEA, said: “We have found our perfect match in TomTom Telematics. Beyond scale, there would be considerable benefits by complementing our offerings, allowing us, among many other opportunities, to sell tyres and solutions across our customers.

“We recognise and respect the talent and skill of the TTT management team and its 670 employees. It’s our intention to foster and expand the business and support its plans.”
The deal is subject to regulatory approval but is expected to be completed in the spring.