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Posts Tagged ‘Value added tax’

Cyber Attacks Force EU to Close Emission Trading System

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Natural science, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Uncategorized, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.01.11 at 03:15

A series of cyber-attacks on national registries, where carbon permits are stored, have forced the EU to close its emissions trading system (ETS) for at least a week. The European Commission posted the announcement on its website on Wednesday after Czech Republic-based firm Blackstone Global Ventures said about €6.8 million of carbon allowances appeared to have disappeared. Thefts on electronic registries in Austria, Greece, Poland and Estonia have also been reported over the last days.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure.”

Kjersti Ulset


After discovering unauthorized trading on its account on Wednesday, Blackstone contacted the Czech registry OTE AS, which promptly closed all operations and began an investigation. The Paris-based BlueNext SA, operator of the world’s biggest spot exchange for permits, followed suit, as did registries in Poland and Estonia, before the EU finally imposed a region-wide shutdown.

It’s not the first time cyber criminal have been trading stolen permits at the international ETS market, but never has the activity been so comprehensive that the regulators have been forced to close the whole market.

“Incidents over the last weeks have underlined the urgent need for enhanced security measures,” the EU commission says in its announcement of the closure.

The bloc’s ETS system will be down, at least until 26 January.

Full statement

Q&A’s

A Criminals Market

According to The Guardian, European Authorities estimate that up to 90% of the whole market volume is plain fraudulent activities.

Belgian prosecutors highlighted the massive losses faced by EU governments from VAT fraud today after they charged three Britons and a Dutchman with money-laundering following an investigation into a multimillion-pound scam involving carbon emissions permits.

The three Britons, who were arrested last month in Belgium, were accused of failing to pay VAT worth €3m (£2.7m) on a series of carbon credit transactions.

European authorities believe the EU has lost at least €5bn to carbon-trading VAT fraud in the last 18 months.

Last month, the European police agency Europol reported that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme had been victim of fraudulent trading activities over the past 18 months, worth €5 billion for several national tax revenues.

Europol, the EU’s law-­enforcement operation, fears the fraud will be used in other areas, especially gas and electricity trading markets, after criminals found VAT fraud was one of the most lucrative financial frauds.

The Most Lucrative Financial Fraud

Wednesday’s announcement and similar cyber-attacks have also damaged the EU initiative, together with reports of tax fraud and the recycling of used credits, the EUobserver.com reports.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure,” says Kjersti Ulset, manager at Point Carbon, a company that reports on Europe’s emission trading, carried out in a network of registries across the union.

Despite its pioneering position, Europe’s ETS system has attracted criticism over its six years of operation, with some businesses saying it threatens the bloc’s competitiveness, while NGOs argue emission thresholds have been set too high.

By placing a price on carbon, Europe’s trading system is designed to lower company emissions and therefore protect the environment from global warming. Corporations received emission permits for free under the first phase (2005-2007) of the scheme. Some, however, are forced to pay for a portion of their permits.

The European emission trading system is the world’s largest, as the US plans for a similar cap-and-trade scheme was blocked by the US Senate last year.

Carbon permits are, however, traded as ordinary securities at the Chicago Carbon Exchange.

Brussels wants to see energy companies buy all their permits with their own money from 2013 and onwards, with other heavy industries gradually phased in by 2020.

China experts suggest pilot ETS projects could appear in Beijing’s next five-year plan, set to be approved in March.

Here at The Swapper we have been skeptical to the ETS all along.

It’s an artificial market, created on basis of nice thoughts, without a real supply/demand situation and is regulated in a way the is more similar to a pharmacy than a financial market.

But what is really worrisome, is the sharp increase in this kind of activity.

Just wait till you see the Chicago Board Option Exchange gets hacked!

Related by The Swapper:

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Another Carbon Fraud Raid Reveals Firearms, Piles Of Cash

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics on 24.05.10 at 13:50

In the early hours of Friday morning, UK tax authorities raided a series of homes and businesses nabbing four men that are believed to be part of an organized criminal gang suspected of ETS carbon trade fraud worth £38 million (€44m), according to the EUobserver.

“Criminals are criminals and will look to taking advantage wherever it is easiest for them.”

Europol spokeswoman


Large piles of cash and a stash of weapons were uncovered when investigators entered seven properties in the London and Leicester areas. The operation was part of  “a complex, 15-month investigation,” according to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

The arrests, of individuals between the ages of 29 and 53, are linked to raids that took place in August last year where nine people were arrested, the EUobserver writes.

However, the development is unrelated to the 25 arrests made earlier this month in the UK and Germany when authorities engaged in a blitz of raids on hundreds of sites in the two countries, including on Deutsche Bank and energy firm RWE, in a case involving the theft of an estimated €180 miillion from state revenues.

“The two investigations are completely separate,” a spokeswoman for HMRC told EUobserver.

The criminal activity the raids focussed on relates to what is known as “carousel fraud.” Criminals establish themselves in one EU member state and open a trading account with the national carbon credit registry.

They then buy carbon credits in a different country, which makes them exempt from VAT.

These are then sold to buyers in the original country, but with VAT slapped on, although the VAT then just disappears along with the trader and the money never arrives in government coffers.

Last December Europol, the European criminal intelligence agency, last December issued a warning that ETS fraud across the EU had resulted in around €5 billion in lost revenues.

In response to the concerns about the attraction of the ETS to fraudsters, the UK government has reduced to zero the rate applied to emissions credits, effectively making them VAT-free.

Criminals cannot steal tax revenue that the government has decided it will no longer collect.

“Criminals are criminals and will look to taking advantage wherever it is easiest for them. Before it was mobiles and computer chips. Right now, they think the ETS is a good bet,” said the spokeswoman.

“If there’s a window or loophole, they will try to exploit it. EU member states need to take the action they need to take in this matter, but it is them to put forward what it is they need to do.”

At the EU level, a new EU directive on reverse charges for emissions trading, which aims to close off this form of tax fraud, was implemented in February.

Original post here.

Related by the Econotwist:

Hackers Steal CO2-emission Permits Worth $4bn

Warnings Agains Hong Kong Financial Fraud

Living In A Derivative World

Italy Charge Foreign Banks With Fraud

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