Italian Police Nab 15 Suspects in 7 Million Liter Fuel Fraud

Italian police have placed under house arrest 15 individuals suspected of corruption and VAT fraud and have seized assets worth approximately four million euros (US$ 4.5 million), including cash, four gas stations, cars, and a villa with a swimming pool.

Petrol Station ItalyInvestigators discovered that the suspects had employed multiple fraudulent methods, such as declaring fuel as "lubricating oil". (Photo: Wallpaper Flare, License)Some of the suspects are entrepreneurs whose gas stations in the provinces of Rome and Latina, specifically Anzio, Albano Laziale, Aprilia, and Lanuvio, have since 2021 been supplied with over seven million liters of fuel that was obtained through fraudulent methods, the financial police said on Tuesday.

Investigators discovered that the suspects had been declaring the fuel as "lubricating oil" when importing it from Germany to avoid paying the appropriate VAT.

The product, which was actually diesel fuel, once in Italy, was subsequently distributed to gas stations in Anzio, Albano Laziale, and Aprilia, leading to decreased prices and an unfair market advantage for the suspects.

As fuel prices surged during the Russia-Ukraine conflict and excise taxes were lowered, the same group of entrepreneurs restructured their operations and began illegally receiving fuel from the military base "Pratica di Mare" through corrupt agreements with five Air Force sub-officers.

The military personnel, instead of supplying "Jet Propellant 8" (special diesel fuel used specifically for military aircraft) to the Air Force planes at the military airport, clandestinely sold it to gas station owners.

The military personnel modified the weighing mechanism of the tanks by placing a car jack under the weighing machine to manipulate the weight of the tanks. This system enabled them to avoid fully unloading the tanks upon arrival so they could later sell the remaining fuel for approximately one euro a liter.

Among the suspects are businessmen, Air Force servicemen, the legal representative of the fuel depot, drivers, and maintenance technicians.