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Emissions sale case closed

THE MURKY 2008 sale of free carbon dioxide emission quotas in which Slovakia lost more than €47 million will not go to court. The General Prosecutor’s Office officially closed the investigation in early June, claiming that the sale did not constitute a crime.

THE MURKY 2008 sale of free carbon dioxide emission quotas in which Slovakia lost more than €47 million will not go to court. The General Prosecutor’s Office officially closed the investigation in early June, claiming that the sale did not constitute a crime.

This decision was criticised by Daniel Lipšic of NOVA. He said that the General Prosecutor’s Office continues in its practice of sweeping sensitive political cases under the rug, the SITA newswire reported on June 4.

“The circumstances of this sale, which can seem disadvantageous for Slovakia, do not have to be and are not a crime, since it is not possible to clearly and objectively determine the damages to Slovakia,” spokesperson for the General Prosecutor’s Office Andrea Predajňová said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that at the time the price was subject to a trade secret.

Predajňová also said that the emission quotas type AAU are not usually sold goods with a constantly set price per 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.

The criminal prosecution over abusing the powers of a public representative and violating rules when administering someone else’s property was stopped on September 18, 2013. It became valid in December 2013 when the prosecutor of the special department of the General Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the complaint of the Environment Ministry. In the beginning of the year, however, General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár re-opened the case. The prosecutor assigned by the General Prosecutor’s Office completed the investigation on June 2, TASR wrote.

Lipšic said that the General Prosecutor’s Office halted the investigation because it could not determine the damages caused to Slovakia.

“The damages are at least €47 million,” Lipšic said, as quoted by SITA, explaining that this is the difference in the price Slovakia paid to Interblue Group and the price for which Interblue Group sold the emissions quotas to Japan.

Lipšic also said that the investigation file contained the testimonies of Hungarians who confirmed that Slovakia’s representatives knew for how much Hungary had sold its free emission quotas.
The investigation into allegations of money laundering in the emissions case is still underway, Predajňová said, as reported by TASR.

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