Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that 18 official complaints of petrol stretching in Westmeath have been made with authorities since May of this year.
“Raising this issue in the Dáil with Minister Noonan recently, I was informed that 11 of the petrol stretching complaints in Westmeath have been filed with Gardaí, six of which were made in November.
“I understand that that all of these reported incidents remain under investigation and that to date no charges have been brought nor files submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The other seven Westmeath complaints since May have been lodged with the Revenue’s Customs Service.
“Minister Noonan informed me in the Dáil that all reports of petrol stretching made to the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána are followed up as a matter of course and samples of fuel are sent to the State Laboratory for scientific analysis where there is reason to suspect excise duty fraud.
“The Minister said that Revenue officers have visited and taken samples from every filling station about which a complaint has been made about fuel contamination, and these samples have been referred to the State Laboratory for analysis. Enquiries into these complaints are on-going.
“Minister Noonan informed me that to date, 208 samples have been referred by Revenue to the State Laboratory for analysis. Despite extensive testing by the State Laboratory, no evidence of any prohibited stretching agent has been found in any of the samples, except two samples taken from one site. The conclusive results received in that particular case has resulted in the seizure of the product and a file is being prepared for prosecution.
“I understand that Revenue Commissioners are working closely with An Garda Síochána and share information and intelligence on this issue. Minister Noonan said he was satisfied the Revenue Commissioners are allocating resources to this issue and taking all possible actions to identify the problem and challenge any instances of identified fuel fraud including, where possible , pursuing prosecutions against offenders.”