Customs smashes mobile detreating plants

7 Jun 2007

In an operation codenamed "Operation Net-casting" mounted in Ma On Shan, Sha Tin and Tai Po, Customs officers of Diesel Oil Enforcement Division this morning (June 7) smashed an illicit oil syndicate.

They seized from 3 oil tankers 3,300 litres of detreated oil and 2,000 litres of marked oil. The seizure value was about $28,000.

A batch of equipment for supplying and detreating oil was seized.

Investigations showed that the syndicate converted oil tankers into mobile detreating plants for selling illicit fuel.

The oil tankers were installed with filtering systems for detreating oil.

Eight men, aged between 25 and 51, were arrested. They included 2 oil tanker drivers, believed to be the syndicate masterminds, and 6 lorry drivers who filled detreated oil from the oil tankers.

They will be charged with "dealing with goods to which Dutiable Commodities Ordinance applies" or "possession of goods to which Dutiable Commodities Ordinance applies".

Investigation continues.

Deputy Head of Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Mr Ng Yan-kwong, said some drivers had opted for detreated oil as the price in the black market is 30% to 40% less than that of the diesel oil.

He stressed that Customs would continue taking rigorous enforcement action against illicit oil activities.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, buying and selling illicit oil is liable to prosecution. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.

Convicted drivers will have a criminal record and their vehicles will be forfeited.

When convicted twice in connection with illicit oil offence, drivers will have their driving licence suspended for six months. Those convicted thrice or more will have their driving licence suspended for more than six months.

The public is advised to call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 to report suspected illicit oil activities.

Ends/Thursday, June 7, 2007

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