The Customs Department on Friday said that in the past two weeks it has confiscated more than 8,000 litres of diesel believed to have been purchased in the north.
This quantity concerns three separate cases for which €45,000 in fines in total was imposed.
On October 22, police stopped a van in Dhekelia carrying two tanks of diesel. The driver of the vehicle admitted to purchasing the fuel in the north on the instructions of another person. During a search of a truck owned by the other man, police and customs officials located more diesel, which was also bought in the north.
Both vehicles were seized, as well as 450 litres of diesel found on them and the two men were arrested.
The import taxes were €400.
The two men were released after paying €10,500 in total in fines. The vehicles were returned to them after paying €500 for each.
Four days later, police seized a tanker truck carrying 8,000 litres.
The vehicle was stopped at the roundabout of Rizoelia in Larnaca. The truck was headed to Limassol. Its driver told officers he had purchased the fuel in the north on the instructions of the owner of the tanker.
He told officers he was paid by the owner of the vehicle to do so. The fuel was subject to around €5,000 in taxes.
Both men were arrested and were released after paying a total of €26,000 in fines. Customs said the tanker truck will be returned to its owner as soon as he pays €7,000 for its release.
The third case concerns 250 litres of diesel found in a tank carried by a twin cab truck driven by a Greek Cypriot man who had crossed to the government-controlled areas through the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint on Wednesday. The vehicle and tank with the diesel were seized and the man was arrested.
The diesel was subject to €200 in taxes.
Customs said that the man was released after paying a €1,000-fine. He also paid €500 to be given back his truck.
The diesel seized in all three cases will be destroyed, Customs said.
Authorities have stepped up checks for the purchase of fuel from the north since July. Customs had announced the law affords its officers the power to stop and search any vehicle and take samples for testing or seize products whose tax has not been paid in the Republic. Even though it did not specify, Customs implied it would be targeting Greek Cypriots who have been increasingly filling their tanks in the north, taking advantage of the much lower price of fuel.
The intensified checks followed complaints voiced by petrol station owners in the government-controlled areas, but also transport business owners who said that some of their competitors were able to offer cheaper prices as they fill their vehicles’ tanks in the north.
According to data of the consumer association, the state has lost some €12m in tax revenue in the first seven months of the year, as more and more Greek Cypriot motorists opt to fill their tanks in the north. During the same period, petrol stations lost close to €1m in commission.
Customs had said that, according to the Green line regulation, it is not illegal for one to buy fuel in the north to fill their car for their own use, but it is not allowed to do so for commercial gain.