Bulgaria: European prosecutors probe multi-million euro fraud regarding greenhouse gas emissions

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia is carrying out dozens of searches and investigative measures, in a probe into possible fraud regarding the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), with losses of millions of euro to the EU and national budgets, EPPO said on February 27.

A private company responsible for verifying the greenhouse gas emissions of thermal power plants and heating plants in Bulgaria is under investigation for allegedly submitting falsified reports to the competent national authorities, the EPPO statement said.

According to the investigation, from 2017 to date, the company knowingly submitted false data and documentation for the annual reports on greenhouse gas emissions produced by thermal power plants and heating plants in Bulgaria, in order to under-declare their emissions output, under the EU ETS.

“Based on the evidence, it is estimated that the under-declared emissions submitted to the national authorities resulted in losses to the EU and national budgets of millions of euro, in unpaid amounts for actually-consumed greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the under-reported emissions also had an impact on the air quality in Bulgaria,” EPPO said.

More than 150 police officers are involved in the searches, carried out in 11 Bulgarian cities, with the cooperation of Bulgaria’s General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security.

More than 40 searches have already taken place and more than 70 witnesses have been interviewed. The investigative officers have seized mobile phones, laptops and voluminous documentation related to the investigation.

“The investigative activities are still ongoing,” the statement said.

The EU ETS is one of the EU’s key climate change mitigation policies, and it is the world’s first carbon market. It aims at providing an efficient mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under the EU ETS, companies need to obtain emissions allowances covering their carbon emissions, EPPO said.

(Photo: Jason Morrison)

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