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EU prosecutors investigating EU ETS fraud in Bulgaria

European Public Prosecutor investigates EU ETS fraud in Bulgaria

Photo: Jim Black from Pixabay

Published

February 28, 2023

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Published:

February 28, 2023

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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is investigating a possible fraud regarding the reports on emissions from power and heating plants. The possible financial loss for the EU and national budgets is estimated at several million euros.

A private company responsible for verifying greenhouse gas emissions from thermal power plants and heating plants in Bulgaria is under investigation for allegedly submitting falsified reports to the competent national authorities, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) said.

Its office in Sofia is carrying out dozens of searches and investigative measures, in a probe into fraud regarding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), with losses to the EU and national budgets estimated at several million euros.

EPPO: The private company knowingly submitted false data

According to the investigation, from 2017 to date, the private company knowingly submitted false data and documentation for the annual reports on emissions produced by thermal power plants and heating plants in Bulgaria, in order to underdeclare their emission output under the EU ETS, EPPO said.

Based on the evidence, it is estimated that the underdeclared emissions submitted to the national authorities resulted in losses to the EU and national budgets in unpaid amounts for the emissions actually consumed. Additionally, the underreported emissions also had an impact on the air quality in Bulgaria, EPPO stressed.

More than 150 police officers are involved in the searches, carried out in 11 Bulgarian cities

So far, more than 150 police officers are involved in the searches carried out in 11 Bulgarian cities, in cooperation with Bulgaria’s General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) and Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (DANS).

More than 40 searches have already taken place and more than 70 witnesses have been interviewed, EPPO said. Investigators have seized mobile phones, laptops and extensive documentation.

Of note, most companies that participate in EU ETS receive free CO2 certificates. If their emissions are bigger than the allowances, they can purchase them on government auctions or on the market.

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