Carbon Credit Watch

France orders carbon tax fraudsters to pay back millions of euros

(January 12, 2012) The first of many trials to come involving carbon-trading tax frauds lands one group in jail, with an order to pay the French state a total of 43 million euros.

A French court has passed sentence on five people convicted of defrauding the European Union’s carbon trading system of millions of euros. The case is expected to be the first of many such trials in France since the discovery of a series of fraudulent carbon-trading schemes that have, altogether, cost the French state up to 1.8 billion euros.

Taking advantage of the EU’s carbon trading system – launched in 2005, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the fraud saw traders set themselves up in one country to buy carbon rights duty-free from overseas brokers. The rights were then resold to firms in the country where the traders were based, this time with the import tax (VAT) included and pocketed by the traders instead of transferred to the French Treasury.

The chief organiser of the fraud, Fabrice Sakoun, has been given five years. His four accomplices have been sentenced to between a year and four years. Sakoun was ordered to pay a one million euros ($A1.24 million) fine, while his accomplices were fined between 100,000 euros and one million euros.

The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of 43 million euros in damages and interest to the French state for unpaid taxes.

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