NINE people have been arrested in connection with a £3m fuel fraud.
HM Revenue and Customs carried out raids on addresses yesterday with 170 officers searching 12 residential premises, five business premises and two petrol stations in Hampshire, East and West Sussex, Kent, Essex and Somerset.
A 46-year-old man from Hayling was arrested.
The ongoing investigation is focused on the suspected illegal purchase and sale of rebated kerosene and biofuel to motorists as duty-paid road diesel.
It is believed the fraud is worth £3m in unpaid excise duty and VAT.
David Margree, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: ‘Motorists need to be aware that using illicit fuel can damage and destroy vehicle engines, has a detrimental effect on legitimate fuel traders and deprives the government of money used to fund public services.
‘Anyone with information about fuel fraud or people involved in the sale, storage or distribution of illicit fuel can contact the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.’
All those arrested were questioned and released on bail while enquiries continue.