A COLOMBIAN national who had been operating a filling station in Limerick city has been jailed for two years for organising the distribution of tens of thousands of litres of laundered diesel, in the first case of its kind at Limerick Circuit Court.
The court heard that Gavin Fernando, 41, with addresses at Adare and the Dublin Road, pleaded guilty to unlawfully keeping for sale mineral oil, on which the appropriate standard rate of tax had not been paid.
The loss to the Revenue represented €10,444 in this case, a customs official told the court. The green diesel, which has a cheaper rate of duty than white diesel, had the dye removed to make it appear as regular diesel.
The operation was discovered by chance after an unmarked oil tanker was spotted making a delivery to the Emo filling station on Clare Street, on which Fernando has a 25 year lease, late at night on November 9, 2010, and the fuel was being discharged into three underground storage tanks at the Limerick premises.
The driver of the fuel truck, 46 year old Sean Gleeson from Swinford Co Mayo, was given a six month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to transporting the laundered diesel. Tests showed the 27,000 litres of fuel being delivered was green diesel that had been laundered.
The court heard Fernando arranged for it to be removed from a closed down petrol station in Co Cavan.
Judge Carol Moran was told Fernando was also in the process of building three oil storage tanks in Co Clare at the time.
State Counsel John O’Sullivan told the court that since 2010 some 2.5 million litres of laundered diesel has been seized and 29 oil laundries have been detected and closed down in the State.
Judge Carroll Moran said laundering diesel oil has serious revenue and environmental consequences, it can affect car engines and allows a criminal an unfair competitive edge over those who abide by the law. Neither of the accused had any previous convictions.