Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Businessman sentenced over fuel laundering supplies

A Jonesborough businessman has been sentenced for importing 220 tonnes of bleaching earth in the knowledge it would be used in the illicit laundering of diesel.

Forty two year old Liam Muldoon from Castle View, Jonesborough, was the owner of Automation Security Systems Ltd, who were the recipients of a freighter containing 1,000 bags of bleached earth, which was discovered by officers from the Border Force at Belfast Docks in March 2013.

HMRC investigators discovered that the business owner had not declared VAT returns on 11 containers of bleaching earth he had imported between December 2011 and March 2013 – avoiding a tax bill of over £20,000.

The huge 220 tonne haul of bleaching earth could launder 16.5 million litres of red diesel, potentially evading over £9.5m in lost duty and taxes.

Assistant Director of HMRC Fraud Investigation Service,  Steve Tracey said Muldoon had admitted during interview that he hoped to double his money by selling the bleaching earth.

“In pleading guilty, he admitted that he sold the bleaching earth knowing that some of it would be used to launder fuel,” said Mr Tracey.

“So although not directly involved in the laundering process, Muldoon was complicit in the fraud.”

The Jonesborough man was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years.