Gas station owners block entrance to finance ministry

Gas station owners on Tuesday blocked the entrance to Greece's Finance Ministry in Athens to protest what they said were “exorbitant” fines imposed through the Hephaestus system.

The program was designed by the ministry to monitor motor and heating fuel sales in an effort to clamp down on illegal trade.

Representatives of the federation of fuel station owners on Tuesday said charges of illegal fuel trading were groundless and instead pointed at faults with the system's software.

“Fuel station owners are led to despair through the imposition of exorbitant and devastating fines based on unfair, non-existent and illegal charges,” they said.

The Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) on Monday imposed a fine of 202.4 million euros on the owner of a gas station in Siteia, Crete, over charges that he illegally traded in more than 103 million liters of heating oil from January to May 2011.

The Panhellenic Federation of Fuel Station Owners and Oil Traders (POPEK) dismissed the charges, saying that if they hold true, then the particular gas station owner is responsible for selling 5 percent of all the heating oil used in the country that year. 

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