Nine people including a woman from Pulborough have been arrested for their involvement in a suspected £3m fuel fraud.
The 48-year-old woman was arrested during an operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Around 170 HMRC officers, assisted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and Sussex and Hampshire Police, searched 12 residential premises, 5 business premises and 2 petrol stations in East and West Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset yesterday, (July 23).
An HMRC spokesperson said 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 an estimated £3m in unpaid excise duty and VAT.
David Margree, assistant director of HMRC’s criminal investigation team, 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 by HMRC investigators and released on bail while enquiries continue.