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Sme: Interblue resurrected, asks for emissions from Slovakia

The mysterious Swiss firm Interblue has asked for 20 million tons of emissions quotas from the Slovak state, citing a contract from five years ago which enabled its forerunner to buy quotas to release 15 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions at a far lower price than the normal market rate. Representatives of the Environment Ministry, then under the control of the Slovak National Party (SNS), sold each quota-ton for around €5, just as neighbouring countries were selling them for almost €10 per ton.

The mysterious Swiss firm Interblue has asked for 20 million tons of emissions quotas from the Slovak state, citing a contract from five years ago which enabled its forerunner to buy quotas to release 15 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions at a far lower price than the normal market rate. Representatives of the Environment Ministry, then under the control of the Slovak National Party (SNS), sold each quota-ton for around €5, just as neighbouring countries were selling them for almost €10 per ton.

The Sme daily wrote on its website that the current ministry, led by Peter Žiga, a Smer party nominee, has refused to transfer the quotas to Interblue, as it considers the original contract invalid. Back in 2010, Slovakia terminated its contract with Interblue, after the company failed to give guarantees that it would be able to pay almost €177 million for the emissions quotas that it would be entitled to in future as a result of the contract. Interblue Europe also has been ignoring calls to prove that it is the successor of Interblue Group, registered in the USA, which originally concluded the contract.

Two weeks ago, Interblue delivered a request to the ministry asking the state to transfer 20 million emission permits. It has already hired a legal agency – Havel, Holásek & Partners – to represent it. The government is slated to discuss the dispute on Thursday, May 30.

The sale of excess carbon dioxide emissions quotas to Interblue Group took place in 2008. The company bought quotas for 15 million tons of emissions at a then-bargain price of €5.05 per tonne. The emissions quotas ended up in the hands of Japanese companies, which bought them for about €8 per tonne, the TASR newswire reported. Interblue Group was registered in the US state of Washington in June 2008, shortly before the purchase of the quotas; its registered address was a lock-up garage. It later closed, then morphed into Interblue Group Europe, registered in Switzerland. There were suspicions that the company had links to the then ruling coalition, and in particular to the SNS. The case resulted in the dismissal of three SNS ministers.

Sources: Sme, TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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