A British man found guilty of helping steal hundreds of thousands of EU Allowances in 2011, which led to the temporary suspension of the market, has been ordered to repay just £1 for his crimes.
Ruman Patel was in Sep. 2014 sentenced to 32 months in jail for his role in the theft of at least 500,000 EUAs from the Czech emissions registry.
During a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing held at Preston Crown Court last month, Patel was ordered to pay the minimum £1 amount, a source at the court said.
Despite having no assets, Patel can be targeted by authorities in the future should he acquire anything of value.
Along with Patel, three other British men charged in the case – Hanif Patel, Ayyub Ibrahim, and Mohammed Hanif Patel – were imprisoned for between 42 months and seven years for encouraging and assisting in the handling of stolen goods, money laundering and fraud.
The four, seen as foot soldiers in a larger, organised criminal operation, were arrested between June 2012 and April 2014 for their part in the theft, which was valued by authorities at €7 million.
Inquiries made with UK authorities and prosecutors as to whether attempts will be or had been made to confiscate any funds or assets gained by the other three men through their crimes were not answered.
A source involved in the case last year told Reuters that the proceeds of the EUA sales were channelled to bank accounts in Dubai, India, China and Hong Kong, before investigators lost the trail.
The four men formed part of an international syndicate that hacked into the Czech emissions trading registry shortly after a hoax bomb threat was made to its Prague headquarters on the morning of Jan. 18, 2011.
According to now-available EU data, a total 1.175 million were purloined from the online accounts of Czech state-owned utility CEZ and Brno-based trading house Blackstone Global Ventures, and subsequently transferred to registry accounts in Poland, Liechtenstein, Estonia, Italy and the UK
Some 500,000 EUAs were moved to an account at the Polish registry operated by Segel Zoo, a company set up by Patel, and they were then transferred to an account in the Liechtenstein registry owned by Huntingdon Sp Zoo, a firm established by the other three men.
The cyber thefts led the European Commission to temporarily suspend transfers within and between all national registries, effectively bringing the bloc’s carbon market to a grinding halt.
The Czech government in March 2011 replaced the 1.175 million stolen EUAs with allowances from a government reserve.
Huntingdon also actively bought and sold hundreds of thousands of EUAs on Italy’s GME in the second half of 2010, before the bourse suspended its emissions trade in December of that year due to “abnormal” activity and “presumed irregular or unlawful behaviours”.
GME’s EUA trading platform has since been shut down permanently.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org