Twenty-three years after the implementation of the first measures on the smuggling of liquid fuels and the installation of entry and exit systems in service stations, the illegal trafficking of petroleum products as well as counterfeiting and tampered pumps prevail in the market.
Fuels: A big drop of 0.121 euro on the price of gasoline
As incredible as it may seem, the results of the audits of the competent authorities of the prosecution and the tax authorities confirm it:
· 3% of the quantities of liquid fuels exchanged annually on the market are illegal.
· In approximately 4 out of 100 tank fillings per year, the vehicle owner is likely to run into adulterated fuel. That is to say, to assume an enormous cost of repairing his vehicle from the damage that will have been caused to him.
· Nearly 6 out of 10 gas stations audited had tax offences.
· The loss of taxes due to smuggling, fraud and other tax crimes during the three years 2020-2022 reached 140 million euros.
· About 1 in 10 liquid fuel outlets are illegal.
Counterfeiting and smuggling
The above conclusions result from the processing of data from the triennial audit report officially announced about ten days ago by the Ministries of Finance, Development and Investments, Citizen Protection, Merchant Navy and Island policy, AADE and SDOE.
According to them on the liquid fuels market:
· For 2022, 195,802 liters of liquid fuel were confiscated. According to market estimates, more than 7 million liters of gasoline, diesel and heating oil were sold last year. Thus, nearly 3% was the subject of smuggling or illegal trafficking.
· Chemical Services of General State Chemistry (GCHK) received and analyzed 8,820 fuel samples over the three years and 276 were found to be irregular – adulterated. They correspond to 3%. On an annual basis and specifically in 2022, 3,054 fuel samples were taken and 115 were found to be irregular – adulterated. They correspond to nearly 4% of the total. Or in simpler terms, 3-4 of every 100 car tank fills are made with adulterated fuel.
AADE’s Special Research Services during the 2020-2022 triennium carried out 345 checks at service stations, found violations in 176 of them and attributed 8,924 violations with a total of 18,854,215 .29 euros of hidden taxable material. In other words, 51% or one in two gas stations that were audited had tax offences. For 2022, 97 service stations were checked and 56, or 58%, committed tax offences. About 6 out of 10.
· AADE’s DOY with specific targeting carried out over the three years 2020-2022 audits of 803 partial and complete audit files and confirmed hidden taxable material for a total amount of 30,342,785 euros. If we add the results of the audits of the Special Investigation Services and the DOU of the AADE, then the tax evasion reaches 49 million euros.
42,852 checks were carried out in the triennium 2020-2022 by the prosecution authorities of AADE Customs, the Hellenic Police (EL.AS.), the Hellenic Coast Guard (LS-EL. AKT.), the Economic Criminal Prosecution Service (SFPO), while 3,723 offenses were recorded. These correspond to about 9%, or if we take them to the entire liquid fuels market, about 1 in 10 distribution and marketing points are illegal.
The extent of the delinquency is also established by cases of targeted inspections by the SDOE at liquid fuel and natural gas stations.
As the account of the three-year action of the prosecuting authorities shows
over the 2020-2022 period, the SDOE General Management carried out:
§ Investigations and audits in a large circuit of trading companies and sales stations, following the processing of a large volume of confiscated documents, and an excise tax in the total amount of 22,000,000 euros was charged , plus multiple costs of €66,000,000, for a total of €88,000,000.
§ Checks at service stations, using data and information obtained both through on-the-spot checks and information taken from the GIS Entry-Exit System database. Employees of the SDOE General Directorate carried out sampling and checks of a closed warehouse in Athens, but also in provincial towns, where fuel smuggling offenses totaling 7,000,000 euros , plus multiple costs, amounting to 3,500,000 euros were recorded.
§ Inspection at a gas station, where after processing a large number of documents for the purchase of gas, it was found that quantities of gas with a reduced excise duty were cleared, under the pretext of its destination for a industrial use. However, these quantities were then adapted for the use of vehicle traffic, while virtual data was delivered to industrial customers, in order to legitimize their circulation. Excise duties totaling €700,000 plus multiple charges of €2,000,000 have been assessed and a number of documents are being processed for recipients of dummy items. In addition, the general management of the SDOE also opened accounts, in order to establish the route of the money and to establish the offense of forming a criminal organization.
The black hole of meters…
It has been almost 23 years since the fuel entry-exit system was established and installed at gas stations and 21 years since the infamous Joint Ministerial Decision on measures against fuel smuggling was issued.
However, as representatives of oil trading companies and gas stations point out, until today, the entry-exit system linked to the central tax control authorities remains blind… and missing… Data sent by petrol stations cannot be used directly by the authorities, while the entry-exit system has not been extended to tax warehouses.
Also two decades later and the GPS tracking system to track tankers and tankers is still not installed.
But also the national heating oil and transport oil tracers will come into force in October 2023.
More than 18 ministerial decisions are still pending today, that is to say that they have not been issued and there is no timetable. These are decisions that complete the set of measures aimed at combating illegal fuel trafficking.
It’s also funny that only the one with the stem is recognized as a certified volume measurement for tanks in 2023…
Legislation published four years ago refers to the future certification of volumetric measurement by modern means.
More specifically, according to the provisions in force (DIEPPY rules), when delivering fuel to the service station, only the measurement with the gauge on the tank is recognized and not the measurement of the input-output system. Essentially, that is, I/O system hints are not recognized.
Today the only systems certified by accredited bodies are:
1. The volumes of fiscal warehouses.
2. Gas station volumetric tables (tanks, electronic bars, etc.).
As market representatives themselves point out, “it is imperative that all tank compartments be measured and recertified by approved organizations and comply with the ELOT standard, so that there is no questioning of the quantity delivered and that the relevant legislation be amended accordingly (DIEPPY Rules), which must also take into account, in an equivalent way, the measurement of the input-output system”.
The expectation of the above is also confirmed by the contents of the official statement of the prosecuting authorities which they issued 10 days ago for the record of their three-year action.
More specifically, we are talking about planned measures:
§ Completion of secondary legislation in the fuels sector, with a focus on improving the technical features and specifications of entry-exit systems throughout the liquid fuels supply chain.
§ Reassess the legislative framework and take new measures, if necessary, to deal optimally with the phenomena of smuggling and protect healthy trade.
§ Realization of an information system on the exploitation of data (SIM), allowing the exploitation of data thanks to artificial intelligence to carry out targeted controls, with the aim of combating smuggling, tax evasion and fuel fraud.
§ Realization of digital applications for taking reference marks for the geolocation of floating and oil supply means (GPS), for the control of fuel movements.
§ Auditors’ access to AADE’s systems in real time, at the time of the audit.
§ Creation of a chamber of commerce with specialized applications of communication and use of information to realize a network-centric administration in the “domain” of controls.