The Greek authorities have seized 15.6 tonnes of illicit refrigerant gases thanks to support provided by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). F-gases – or HFCs – are used in refrigerant equipment like air conditioners or refrigerators. However, because of their negative impact on climate, they are subject to strict quota in the EU and to a gradual phase down.
The seizures were made following on-the-spot checks by the Greek authorities and OLAF investigators. Over 6 tonnes of f-gases lacked the necessary authorisations, and an additional 9 tonnes of f-gases were counterfeit. The economic operators in breach of EU regulations received fines for over 200,000 euro.
OLAF worked closely with DIMEA (the Greek interagency for market control), the Hellenic Police and Hellenic Customs. DIMEA coordinated activities at the national level. OLAF provided intelligence on the suspicious economic operators that were checked, helped coordinate activities, and ensured cooperation with the industry operators affected by the imitations. The involvement of the private stakeholders allowed for an efficient identification of the cylinders of counterfeit f-gases and for their subsequent treatment.
OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä said: “I congratulate the Greek colleagues on this successful action and I am glad of our very good cooperation. The gases seized are extremely harmful for the environment, and they can be flammable and hazardous. OLAF has been very active in the fight against smuggling of refrigerant gases and has recently obtained the global Montreal Protocol award for its work in the domain”.