Computer virus robs Holcim of EUR 15 mln in EU carbon permits

Newsroom 06/12/2010 | 10:59

About EUR 15 million worth of EU carbon-dioxide permits have been stolen from the account of the Romanian branch of Holcim, the firm has announced. According to company information, about one million permits were transferred to an account in Liechtenstein and 600,000 were moved to a company that is registered in Italy and the UK.

EU commission officials said that the permits had been transferred by a computer virus.

“The use of a computer virus (called Nimkey) was reported. Although this virus mostly targets US banking institutions, it can potentially be used to access user’s credentials and perform the transfer of allowances,” said an EU Commission spokeswoman, quoted by Reuters.

Holcim, the world’s second biggest cement maker, has asked the EU, which oversees the registration of emission credits, to help it track the stolen permits and stop them from being traded. The European Union Allowances, or EUAs, have a unique identification number, and the stolen ones are listed on Holcim’s website.

The scheme caps the emissions of heavy industry like cement and steel companies, forcing them to buy permits to cover excess emissions and allowing firms sell them when emissions are reduced.

EU permits for December rose 8 cents or 0.5 percent to EUR 14.84 a metric ton on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The Commission said national registries’ security measures are the responsibility of the 27-nation bloc’s member states. Last week the German registry DEHSt was shut down for two days after online scammers “phished” registry accounts by releasing a computer virus.

Dana Verdes

 

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