Frenchman convicted of carbon-trading fraud goes on the run

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 4:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 6:01am


A Frenchman convicted of carbon-trading fraud that cost the French state some €1.6 billion (HK$17 billion) has gone on the run, a judicial source said, admitting that his electronic tracking bracelet had stopped working.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for Michel Keslassy, 50, who was given a 3½-year sentence in June for buying untaxed carbon credits abroad and adding on value-added tax when he traded them in France. The tax was never declared.

A French court ordered Keslassy's release from prison last month for health reasons on condition that he was monitored electronically using the bracelet.

But after "a few days", the device "stopped working", the source said.

Carbon trading provides financial incentives as a way of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide.

Companies that exceed their agreed carbon limits can buy up unused emissions, or credits, from less polluting firms.

Carried out in 2008-09, the carbon fraud was one of the biggest ever registered in France, authorities said, and cost Europe some €5 billion, according to the European Union's law-enforcement agency Europol.

Keslassy was fined €65.5 million, equal to the amount of unpaid tax.

He has appealed and the case was due to be heard in February.