Interpol warns of carbon fraud
Adelaide (AU) Advertiser, June 12, 2009
Carbon fraud is the white-collar crime of the future - and it could cost taxpayers millions.
As Australian companies prepare to trade in what is effectively thin air, climate criminals are cashing in on similar schemes overseas. Interpol has warned companies to beware of bogus "carbon credits" that fail to lower emissions.
And there are real questions over the ability of regulators to check if companies have met their emissions caps.
Carbon trading involves buying and selling the right to emit carbon dioxide.
Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said this left it open to widespread rorts.
"Under the Government's current scheme, there are significant possibilities for carbon fraud," Mr. Hunt said.
"It will be more complex than the tax system and reliant on much more self-reporting."
He said it was unclear how the scheme would be applied to the 60 different industrial sectors to be included.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong's office said a new, 300-strong regulatory authority would monitor the new scheme.
This is tiny in comparison to similar regulatory bodies, such as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, which has 1669 staff.
"The assessment system for liability under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is like submitting an income tax return," Ms Wong's spokeswoman said.
"If liable entities do not report or the authority has reason to believe that the report is false, then the authority may investigate and assess the entity's liability under the scheme."
Interpol environmental crimes specialist Peter Younger said the carbon market would be irresistible to criminal gangs.
"In future, if you are running a factory and you desperately need credits to offset your emissions, there will be someone who can make that happen," Mr. Younger said.
"Absolutely, organized crime will be involved."
Australia's emissions trading scheme will allow companies to offset their emissions by buying "avoided deforestation credits".
This will involve paying overseas nations to save their forests, rather than log them.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Senator Wong yesterday told the Victorian farmers their State Government had been offered cash to improve irrigation but the Brumby Government had not yet provided plans on how it would be spent.
Addressing the Victorian Farmers Federation AGM yesterday, Senator Wong said $1.1 billion had been committed to the Victorian Government's plans for irrigation modernisation in northern Victoria.
"My department is yet to receive a project proposal from the Victorian Government. Obviously this means we have not been able to spend any State Priority Project funds in Victoria this financial year," she said.http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,25623269-5006301,00.html