Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ukraine opens criminal case over $290 million carbon cash

Ukraine's state prosecutor onApril 28launched a criminal case relating to what it said was the misuse by the previous government of Yulia Tymoshenko of about $290 million cash received for selling carbon quotas.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement that 2.3 billion hryvnias, received in 2009 for selling carbon emission rights under the Kyoto agreement, had been misused by the former cabinet of ministers and the finance ministry.

"As a result, a criminal case for violation of budget legislation and abuse of authority was launched on April 28," a statement said. It did not mention Tymoshenko by name.

The action had caused "serious consequences for Ukraine's state interests", it said.

Earlier Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, at a cabinet meeting, accused the Tymoshenko government of massive misuse of budget funds during its time in office, including the alleged disappearance of about $378 million received for selling carbon quotas to Japan.

He suggested much of the money had gone on funding Tymoshenko's unsuccessful election campaign against President Viktor Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko, who lost to Yanukovych in a bitterly-fought run-off in February, denied Azarov's charges.

"I am even happy that today Azarov is preparing a criminal action against me. 'Come closer and then we'll see who wins'," she said.

"It is impossible to blame me for misuse of money and property back then ... It's impossible," she said in Rivne in western Ukraine.
Azarov's charges and the move by the prosecutor's office added to political tension in the ex-Soviet republic following riots on Tuesday in parliament.

Smoke bombs were thrown and deputies brawled as supporters of Tymoshenko and allied groups tried to block ratification of an agreement extending the stay of the Russian navy in a Ukrainian port. Tymoshenko is now seeking public support for a day of protest on May 11 against the policies of Yanukovych.

Azarov, denouncing the 2009 budget of the Tymoshenko government as "the most shameful in Ukraine's history", said it was not known where the money from Ukraine's sale of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) had gone.

"It's unclear where they (the previous government) spent 3.0 billion hryvnias ($378 million) in foreign ecological investments," he told a government meeting.

"This money must be renewed, included in the budget... and (we will) explain to investors why there is not a single implemented ecological and energy saving project," he said.

In 2009 Ukraine sold 30 million carbon emission rights to Japan for $375 million and said then that it hoped to earn $2 billion or more from the sale of the right-to-pollute carbon credits that it did not use.

The discrepancy in the figures is explained by differences in the exchange rate of the Ukrainian hryvnia against the dollar.
The discrepancy in the figures is explained by differences in the exchange rate of the Ukrainian hryvnia against the dollar.

Azarov said this and other budget losses were explained by the "unlawful financing" of Tymoshenko's election campaign for president
He said the money from the carbon emissions was only one element of money misused by the Tymoshenko government. "Overall, the actions of the preceding government caused the state to lose about 100 billion hryvnia ($12.6 billion), he said.

"At issue is money, received in payment for the Ukrainian quotas under the Kyoto protocol, part of which were transferred to the government of Japan, Azarov's spokesman Vitaly Lukyanenko said.

"Japan's government paid not only in money, but in investments with a defined purpose and 15 projects... in energy savings agreed by the governments must be implemented," he said.

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