Monday, December 14, 2009

Fraud: "With Wind Energy, Opportunity for Corruption "

Long time readers know I have an almost insatiable interest in finance scams; use the blog search for Enron or Planktos.
From the New York Times:
The northern trade winds of the Canary Islands have long tempted daredevil windsurfers, but now the gusts rising up to 60 kilometers per hour are attracting giant wind turbines and the millions of euros behind them.

With their blades whirling, the 55 turbines that stand beyond the gray pebble beach of Pozo Izquierdo are stark, white symbols of a growing industry and the potential for abundant clean energy — and corruption.

The town of Santa Lucía Tirajana, host to the annual Grand Slam windsurfing championships, was struck this year with gale force. A yearlong investigation by the Guardia Civil — the Spanish gendarmerie — turned up irregularities in a plan to build a new wind park. Now the mayor, five town officials and two wind park developers are fighting criminal charges that include influence peddling, misuse of public office, misappropriation of land and bribery. The motivation? Up to €40 million in European Union subsidies.

This investigation and others taking place in Europe and the United States shed light on the sometimes freewheeling approach of the fast-evolving wind energy industry. Stoking the frenzy in Europe is the vast revenue available through a variety of subsidies, including the European Union’s farm subsidy system, which distributes more than €50 billion, or $73 billion, a year to farmers, corporate agribusiness and rural development projects.

In Europe, more than €6 billion in structural and agricultural subsidies have been allocated for renewable energy over a 13-year period ending in 2013. This is an attractive sum for a relatively new industry that experts say gets the benefit of the doubt because it has an eco-friendly image that seems above political reproach. And clean energy is at the forefront of the debate over climate change that is drawing global attention this week in Copenhagen.

The authorities say it is impossible to quantify the level of fraud in public spending on wind energy because investigations are scattered across different countries among the regional and fiscal police. But critics say the available riches and patchy controls are luring a rogue’s gallery of corrupt politicians and entrepreneurs trying to literally create money out of thin air.

“It’s the same mentality as a Texas oil strike,” said Jesus Bethencourt Rosillo, a Santa Lucía lawyer who represents a Canary Islands whistle-blower. “This is a gold rush, and everyone wants a wind park at whatever price.”>>>MUCH MORE


So a Sicilian mafioso walks into HSBC…

Mafia crime is 7% of GDP in Italy, group reports

Why the Mafia Loves Garbage

Mafia link to Sicily wind farms probed

Zeitgeist: Mafia Cash Increases Grip on Sinking Italy Defying Berlusconi

Interpol: "Forest-CO2 scheme will draw organized crime"

China's Kyoto Scam = $Billions

Noble Environmental Power offers 24M shares in IPO (NEPI; WNDY
This should be an interesting offering circular. If you recall, Nobel Environmental was one of the wind project developers mentioned in the Aug. 17, 2008 New York Times story "In Rural New York, Windmills Can Bring Whiff of Corruption"...