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Former ministry employee not linked to emissions case, says special prosecutor

NO HIGH-ranking official from the Environment Ministry profited from the 2008 emission quota sale, said special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik. This came in response to an earlier claim by the Fair-Play Alliance (AFP) that referred to documents provided by Swiss authorities who were looking into allegations of money laundering in the emissions case. The AFP considers the response insufficient.

NO HIGH-ranking official from the Environment Ministry profited from the 2008 emission quota sale, said special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik. This came in response to an earlier claim by the Fair-Play Alliance (AFP) that referred to documents provided by Swiss authorities who were looking into allegations of money laundering in the emissions case. The AFP considers the response insufficient.

“It was not revealed that the official you mentioned received economic benefits regarding the emission quotas sale,” Kováčik said, as quoted by the Sme daily.

The AFP published the documents from the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office, which describe the dubious transfer of $3.8 billion to the bank account of an influential Environment Ministry employee back in August 2009. Swiss bank Credit Suisse considered this suspicious and forwarded it to the Swiss authorities.

A person claiming to be the owner of this account was an Environment Ministry employee, said Pavol Lacko, AFP’s programme manager, adding that they referred to him as “a secretary”, which could mean a state secretary or some other senior official, as reported by the TASR newswire at the time. They, however, refused to identify the person.

The same person was linked to three other accounts, the Swiss documents revealed.

The documents obtained by the AFP had the official’s name blacked out, but Sme wrote that the Slovak authorities allegedly received files which revealed this person’s name back in 2012.

Kováčik, however, said that “Slovak authorities still do not have the official rulings of the Swiss authorities about halting the criminal prosecution you mention”, as reported by Sme.

“We consider the response of the special prosecutor insufficient,” said Zuzana Wienk, programme director of the AFP, as quoted by Sme, adding that they will demand further answers.

Wienk explained that the special prosecutor’s office in fact did not provide any other answers for their specific questions.

“They did not even provide any answers to a specific inquiry as to whether the office has investigated the bank data that it was supposed to obtain in the form of letters from the Swiss prosecutor’s office in 2011 and 2012,” Wienk said, as quoted by TASR. The AFP inquired as to why the findings have not been published, who is the aforementioned official and why was the Slovak criminal prosecution dropped.

The AFP maintains that Switzerland provided all the critical bank documentation to Slovak authorities, which means that “our prosecutor’s office should also know the identity of the said senior official”, as reported by TASR.

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.

Source: Sme, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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