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Greece seeks urgent action over growth in F-Gas refrigerant smuggling

Cooling industry seeks government intervention to stop illegal trade that makes nonsense of F-Gas quotas and could cost it 20 million Euros in lost taxes - as well as potential EU penalties

The Greek cooling industry has appealed to its government to act to stop the huge trade in illegal refrigerants, which they say poses a triple threat; to the environment; to the Greek economy and to public safety.

Greece’s association of cooling wholesalers and importers also fears that if the illegal trade continues to go unchecked, it will see Greece punished in the European courts for breaking F-Gas rules.

They say the gas is being brought in by a wide variety of illegal means through countries such as Albania, Macedonia, Turkey and Bulgaria.

The refrigerant, which is either imported with counterfeit documentation or is carried in illegal disposable cylinders, is costing Greece at least €20 million in lost taxes, as well as making a mockery of the system of bans and reducing quotas which the rest of Europe is adhering to.

The signatories note that even though Bulgaria is an EU member state, it is acting as a gateway to illegal imports from other third-party countries.

They say that the refrigerant is being imported in a variety of ways including on commercial trucks amongst other freight; on refrigerated trucks with hidden containers; on buses with refrigerant hidden in the luggage area; on boats and even in passenger cars. The manufacturers say that the ever-widening number of methods depends only on the imagination and means of the smugglers.

The signatories urgently call for the government to intervene, with a crackdown on the illegal activity, together with a concerted programme of education for customers - and the customs authorities - to spot the signs of counterfeits.

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