NEWS IN SHORT

FPA files motions in emission case

THE FAIR-Play Alliance (FPA) ethics watchdog has filed a criminal complaint over the murky 2008 sale of carbon dioxide emission quotas in which Slovakia is estimated to have lost out on more than €47 million. It claims that the General Prosecutor’s Office is ignoring information from Swiss authorities about a former Environment Ministry employee who allegedly earned money on the sale. The prosecutor stopped the investigation of the case in early June, claiming that the sale did not constitute a crime.

THE FAIR-Play Alliance (FPA) ethics watchdog has filed a criminal complaint over the murky 2008 sale of carbon dioxide emission quotas in which Slovakia is estimated to have lost out on more than €47 million. It claims that the General Prosecutor’s Office is ignoring information from Swiss authorities about a former Environment Ministry employee who allegedly earned money on the sale. The prosecutor stopped the investigation of the case in early June, claiming that the sale did not constitute a crime.

Simultaneously, the FPA submitted a second motion to the General Prosecutor’s Office, asking it to look more closely into the Swiss authorities’ investigation of the suspicion of money laundering.
“The Slovak prosecutor’s office behaves as if it wanted to protect the unknown high-level official of the ministry,” Zuzana Wienk of the FPA said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “Even if it did not have the information in the file, it is incomprehensible why it did not ask for it from the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office.”

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, making €47 million from the transaction.

The criminal prosecution over abusing the powers of a public representative and violating rules when administering someone else’s property was stopped in September 2013, and in December 2013 the prosecutor of the special department of the General Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the Environment Ministry’s complaint. 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.

Back in April, the FPA presented 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.

Though the documents obtained by the FPA had the official’s name blacked out, and referred to him or her as “a secretary”, Wienk said that the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office documented the identity of the person, as well as the bank accounts and transfers on the accounts. They sent all the information to Slovakia in January 2012.

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