NEWS IN SHORT

New player in emissions case

A HIGH-level official might have benefited from the murky 2008 carbon dioxide emissions deal, one of the biggest scandals of first government of Robert Fico (2006-10), according to Fair-Play Alliance (AFP). They based their claim on documents provided by Swiss authorities, who were looking into allegations of money laundering in the emissions case. The investigation ended with no charges laid, the TASR newswire reported.

A HIGH-level official might have benefited from the murky 2008 carbon dioxide emissions deal, one of the biggest scandals of first government of Robert Fico (2006-10), according to Fair-Play Alliance (AFP). They based their claim on documents provided by Swiss authorities, who were looking into allegations of money laundering in the emissions case. The investigation ended with no charges laid, the TASR newswire reported.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office has yet to comment on the findings, saying it must read the AFP documents first, as reported by TASR.

“We found that some highly-placed official from the Environment Ministry, who had been working there until 2009, could have benefitted from the sale,” Pavol Lacko, AFP’s programme manager, told the press on April 2.

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.

Lacko explained that in August 2009 a credit note worth $3.8 million appeared on an account at Swiss bank Credit Suisse. The bank considered this suspicious and forwarded it to the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office. A person claiming to be the owner of this account was an Environment Ministry employee, Lacko said, adding that they referred to him as “a secretary”, which could mean state secretary or some other senior official, as reported by TASR. They, however, refused to identify the person.
The same person was linked to other three accounts, the Swiss documents revealed.

Based on the materials Slovak police received from Swiss officials, the Special Prosecutor’s Office published details of who benefited from the emissions deal in February. However, there was no mention of any former Environment Ministry employee, the Sme daily wrote.

AFP head Zuzana Wienk asked special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik to explain why they have not published the received materials, who is the official and why the investigation was stopped in Slovakia, TASR wrote.

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