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Estonians find stolen Czech carbon credits

Czechs slam EU plan to reopen emissions market: report
Prague (AFP) Feb 3, 2011 - The Czech energy market watchdog on Thursday slammed the EU's plan to partly reopen its carbon credit market closed after hackers had stolen polluting rights from the system, the CTK news agency said. The Czech Republic, which was badly hit when millions of euros-worth of carbon credits were stolen from registries in five countries in January, sees the move as premature with investigations still under way. "It's amazing that the European Commission doesn't mind stolen goods getting back in circulation," Jiri Stastny, chief executive of the OTE company running the Czech registry, told CTK.

The commission on Thursday cleared Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia to reopen their national registries after giving "reasonable assurances that the minimum security requirements are in place." The Czechs are particularly concerned about Britain and Germany, where most of the 1.306 million permits stolen from their registry were found last week. Authorities in Tallinn Estonia said Thursday more had ended up in Estonia. "I have no news saying British or German justice authorities have secured the permits on the local accounts," said Stastny.

"If the registries really open, the stolen permits will start moving again, which means the investigations we have led so far will be wasted," he added. The market, suspended on January 19, remains closed in the European Union's 22 other member states. Trading was frozen after computer hackers stole two million certificates from registries in Austria, Estonia, Greece, the Czech Republic and Poland, before selling millions of euros worth of them. Under the trading system, limits are placed on the amount of carbon dioxide companies may emit and those who pollute less are free to sell credits to companies that need more. The European Union Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is the largest multi-national, greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world, with about 12,000 companies on the exchange.
by Staff Writers
Tallinn (AFP) Feb 3, 2011
Estonian authorities have found carbon credits stolen from the Czech Republic on an Estonian registry listed as belonging to non-Estonian nationals, an Estonian official said Thursday.

"We are not disclosing the identity of the individuals, but can confirm that they are not Estonian citizens," Pavel Ivanov, spokesman for the Estonian Environment Ministry, told AFP Thursday.

"At the moment we also don't know whether these foreign individuals knew at all they had made a deal for stolen carbon credits, the investigation will determine this," he added. "We have forwarded all relevant data to the Europol."

Europol is probing the cyber-theft of carbon credits in January from the national systems of EU states Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece and Poland.

The European police body has not ruled out that organised crime might be involved.

Trading in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was frozen January 19 after computer hackers stole two million certificates worth millions of euros from the registries of the five countries.

Last week, Czech authorities said they had identified nearly 1.306 million stolen carbon allowances in Britain, Germany and Estonia. Prague has requested the European Commission prevent the credits re-entering the carbon market.

The ETS allows around 12,000 companies including huge multinationals to buy and sell rights to pump industrial gases into the atmosphere.

Issued free of charge by national EU governments, the certificates are currently worth some 14 euros each. Each credit equates to one tonne of emissions.

Europe will partially reopen its carbon credit market Friday after national registries in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia were cleared by the European Commission Thursday. The market will remain closed in the EU's 22 other member states.

Estonia hopes to reopen trading on its registry next week, after approval of security tests by the European Commission, a senior Estonian official said Thursday.

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