Man busted for selling 12M liters of fake fuel

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Man busted for selling 12M liters of fake fuel

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Owners of gas stations who have sold billions of won worth of fake fuel have been caught by the police.

One of the gas stations that sold fake automotive fuel was an altteul (thrifty) gas station that was established in a bid to lower the local gas price with government subsidies.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday they have arrested a 45-year-old man surnamed Cho who owns 11 gas stations in Seoul, Gyeonggi, and one altteul station in Jecheon, North Chungcheong for producing and selling 12.3 million liters of fake gasoline and diesel.

The suspect made about 21 billion won ($19.4 million) of profit from the scheme.

The police also arrested two men, Kim, 37, and Park, 59, who helped in producing the adulterated fuels and obtained about 160 million worth of fake diesel as evidence.

The police added that 12.3 million liters of fuel could fill up 205,000 midsize cars. Adulterated fuel shortens the life of vehicles’ engines and sometimes causes a car to stop running.

The police said Cho obtained a tank truck to carry the fake fuel with Park. They then mixed gasoline and diesel with cheap kerosene and solvent. The next step in the process was to filter out any substance that would show the fuel was fake when the fuel is tested.

Authorities test for the chemical properties of kerosene to detect fake fuel. If those properties are found in diesel or gasoline, it is considered fake fuel.

The police said Kim learned from his uncle that the substance that verifies the fuel as fake can be removed if they add activated carbon such as charcoal and he sold the technique to Park for 10 million won. Park provided two trucks and sold them to Cho for 10 million won per truck.

“The trucks used for carrying the fake fuel just look like normal trucks that no one would suspect,” said Shin Dong-shik, investigator from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. “They parked the trucks in a hidden spot in a gas station.”

Cho also changed the ownership of some of his gas stations into his brother and friends’ names so police couldn’t trace his violations.

“Fake fuel is one of the biggest elements that adds to the black market, so we will tighten control on fake fuel producing and selling by cooperating with other agencies, such as the Korea Petroleum Quality and Distribution Authority.”

Last year during the presidential campaign, then-candidate Park Geun-hye mentioned policing the black market for the first time as a means to come up with the funds necessary to finance her extended welfare programs.

The underground economy is estimated to be worth roughly 370 trillion won, which is the equivalent of 33 percent of the nation’s entire GDP.

By Min Gyung-won, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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