Illicit petrol ring involved fueling stations

State Customs Service officials have broken up an illegal fuels smuggling operation that involved an excise tax evasion scheme set up within a chain of gasoline stations, reported LTV news program Panorāma Monday.

This is the first time legitimate retailers have been tied up in an illegal operation of this type and scale, surprising even veteran customs officers.

Officers estimate the ring may have been distributing up to 100 tons of fuel through the stations.

The brazen tax-evaders were most likely motivated by greed for greater profits, as the price of the fuel was the same as for the approved blends. Losses to the state treasury are therefore expected to be significant.

“Based on the last sale we’re talking in the tens of thousands of euro. Looking at the longer-term period the sums will be much higher,” said Edijs Ceipe of the Customs Service criminal investigations department.

As far as is currently known, six various fueling stations from four different retail chains are linked to an excise goods warehouse and trucking company. Unofficial sources say the Trest chain is one of the involved fuel retail station brands.

Trest is run by Oļegs Černiševs and Andrejs Maksimovs, neither of whom could be reached for comment by LTV news service. The fueling stations are registered to separate off-shore companies in various jurisdictions.

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