BUSINESS

Gas pump cheats to face tougher penalties

TAGS: Economy, Energy

An amendment tagged onto a bill relating to public contracts seeks to impose stiffer penalties on gas station owners who tamper with pumps and cheat customers.

Market experts estimate that gas station customers in Greece receive on average 10 percent less fuel than they pay for, while a system established several years ago to measure the amount of fuel that gas stations receive, as well as pump out, has not proven effective in stamping out fuel smuggling.

As a result, the government is looking for other ways of tackling the problem. The latest move came in the form of the amendment, which was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday and provides for larger financial penalties, prison sentences and the cancellation of the licenses of firms and owners caught swindling customers.

The main aim of the new draft legislation is to prevent the companies involved and the person in charge of the gas station from being allowed to operate in the fuel sector again. This ban would extend to the guilty party’s first- and second-degree relatives. Anyone found guilty of having tampered with pumps on a regular basis faces a jail sentence of up to three years.

Under the proposed provisions, the pumps and other equipment involved in the fraud would be confiscated and the firm would face an administrative fine of 30,000 euros. Anyone found to be trading in or manufacturing equipment that can be used to tamper with gas pumps faces a fine of 100,000 euros.

The readings on fuel pumps will only be allowed to deviate a maximum of 1.5 percent from the actual result in order to be deemed valid, while the margin of error on pumps for liquefied natural gas can be no more than 3 percent.

Online