GENERAL Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár on June 2 closed the investigation of the protracted case of the sale of CO2 emissions quotas by the previous Robert Fico government to US-based company Interblue Group, finding that the sale did not constitute a crime.

General Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Andrea Predajňová told the TASR newswire that the circumstances of the deal may appear to have been disadvantageous for Slovakia, but in reality this might not be the case, adding that it cannot be defined as a crime, as the damages to Slovakia cannot be unambiguously and objectively defined. Predajňová added that the price of emissions in general was subject to trade secrets. Moreover, the emission units are not tradable goods with a constantly determinable price unit.

In 2008, the state sold its excess carbon dioxide emissions quotas to a small, unknown firm called Interblue Group, then operating out of a US garage, at €5.05 per tonne, a price significantly lower than the market value. Interblue Group subsequently sold the emissions quotas to Japan and made €47 million from the transaction administered by the Slovak National Party (SNS), which was in a coalition with Smer at the time. The scandal cost two SNS environment ministers their seats, and the party eventually lost control over the ministry.

Former interior minister Daniel Lipšic reacted, as quoted by the Sme daily, that minimum damages can be calculated at €47 million, which is the difference between the selling price of Slovakia’s emission quotas to Interblue and the price for which the garage firm resold them to Japan. He also said that the case was swept under the rug, as even the testimonies of senior Czech, Belgian and Hungarian officials were not enough for Cižnár to re-open the investigation.

The prosecution of the especially grave crime of abusing the powers of a public official and violation of duties when administering other people’s property was halted on September 18, 2013. The ruling became valid in early December when the Special Prosecutor’s Office issued a ruling that turned down the complaint of the harmed side, the Slovak Environment Ministry. In early 2014, Čižnár issued an order to further review the case, and another GPO prosecutor scrutinised the criminal file. However, an investigation into the crime of legalising income from criminal activities is still ongoing, Predajňová added for TASR.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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