Two involved in fuel laundering disqualified from acting as company directors

Man and woman disqualified for 15 years for ‘extreme’ case of fraud

The marked fuel was being sold as ‘diesel for road-going vehicles’, which attracts higher VAT and excise duty. Photograph: iStock

The marked fuel was being sold as ‘diesel for road-going vehicles’, which attracts higher VAT and excise duty. Photograph: iStock

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A man from Co Monaghan and a woman from Co Armagh have been disqualified from acting as company directors for 15 years because of their involvement with what the High Court said was an “extreme” case of fuel-laundering.

Paul Devlin, of Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, and Fiona McNally, of Keady, Co Armagh, were not in court when the application came before Mr Justice Michael Quinn.

The judge described the case as “one of the most extreme” in relation to the use of a company for the laundering of diesel.

The disqualifications, which were made on Monday but not previously reported, are among the longest ever handed down under the Companies Act.

Liquidator George Maloney, represented by Shelly Horan BL, told the court that Gaboto Ltd owed Revenue more than €9 million, inclusive of interest and penalties.

The court was told that Gaboto was incorporated in February 2011, originally had its registered address at Haggardstown, Dundalk, Co Louth, and had two directors with addresses at Hackballscross, Co Louth.

The company had a trading retail service station at Brosna, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, from March 2011.

In the 2012 and 2013 financial years it had turnovers of €791,702 and €659,159 respectively.

Sole shareholder

Mr Devlin and Ms McNally became directors of the company in April 2013. Mr Devlin became its sole shareholder, and the registered office was moved to Moate Road, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.

The company began trading at a premises at Corrygarry, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in 2013, and from a premises at Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, the following year.

During 2014 the company had a turnover of more than €6 million, Mr Maloney told the court in an affidavit.

The company’s trade in fuel was predominantly marked “gas oil”, or “green diesel”, which has reduced rates of VAT and excise.

Trading in Kilbeggan ceased when Revenue imposed conditions on its licences, while the Clondalkin business ceased the following year following the discovery of diesel with a “marker” that identified it as green diesel.

The marked fuel was being sold as “diesel for road-going vehicles”, or Derv, which attracts higher VAT and excise duty.

Mr Maloney was appointed as liquidator to the company in 2015, having been nominated by Revenue.

He told the court it was his belief the company and its directors were involved in “fuel-laundering fraud causing a loss to the exchequer”.

A Revenue investigation into the company was part of a “wider investigation into the distribution and supply of laundered fuel, and associated VAT evasions in this jurisdiction”.

Missing traders

The trading by the company routinely involved “missing traders”, who would appear, on paper, to be customers buying green diesel from the company.

In the case of Gaboto, the diesel “was not sold in the manner set out by the company, but rather was sold as Derv to filling stations for retail sale”.

A Revenue audit found that only €100,000 of the company’s €2.3 million in trading over six weeks in August and September 2013 was lodged to its bank account, Mr Maloney said.

The company pretended to purchase Derv from entities that did not exist, in order to conceal the fact that it had laundered green diesel.

Among the companies to which Gaboto sold fuel was DMG Energy Ltd, which was itself engaged in fuel laundering, the court was told.

Damien McGleenan, of Keady, Co Armagh, a former director of DMG Energy, has been targeted over the years by the authorities in Northern Ireland in relation to fuel smuggling. Last year he was disqualified from acting as a company director in this jurisdiction.