Seizures of illegal tobacco fall by 56%
on 21/01/2013 00:00:00
However, it is the lowest amount of illegal tobacco seized since 2007, and far short of the record 218.5m cigarettes recovered in 2009, valued at €92.1m.
The total of 8,105 seizures of illegal tobacco last year also represented a 23% drop on the number in 2011.
Since 2009, there has been a strong downward trend in the quantity of tobacco seized by Revenue even though retailers claim the black market in cigarettes remains strong.
A pack of 20 cigarettes retails for around €9.30, while the same brand can be bought from illegal dealers for between €4 and €5.
However, a Revenue spokeswoman said large individual seizures explained some of the higher quantities in previous years. She said there was a single operation which recovered 119m cigarettes in Greenore, Co Louth, in 2009, while there was a further seizure of 31.5m cigarettes in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2010.
"The Greenore seizure in itself exceeded the individual national totals for either 2011 or 2012," said the spokeswoman.
She claimed the same reason explained why only 1m cigarettes were seized in the South-West last year, compared to 12.6m in 2011 and 31.4m in 2010.
Revenue also confirmed it had published an incorrect figure earlier this month on the quantity of other illegal tobacco products seized by Customs officers in 2012. Instead of almost 20,000kg originally claimed, Revenue has admitted the true figure was 5,277kg.
Revenue figures show a record amount of illegal diesel was seized last year, with almost 1.1m litres of laundered fuel recovered.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan expressed confidence in the measures being taken by Revenue in tackling the black economy.
In reply to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary, Mr Noonan said considerable success had been achieved in combating the illegal trade in tobacco products.
Mr Noonan said Revenue was conscious of the threat fuel-laundering posed to legitimate businesses and the Exchequer and it had adopted a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem.
He said that a strong licensing regime for the auto-fuel sector had been in place since 2011 and a new licensing regime for marked fuel traders had come into effect since Oct 2012.
New reporting requirements were introduced at the start of this month which require all licensed fuel traders to report their transactions to Revenue on a monthly basis. Mr Noonan said such information would help Revenue to identify suspicious or unusual activity.
A Revenue spokesperson said Customs officers had actively targeted illicit, unlicensed "pop-up" fuel outlets last year, particularly in the Dublin region. Seizures of illegal diesel in the capital rose by almost 300% last year to 272,300 litres.