LONDON Trading in European Union carbon permits on Dutch exchange Climex grew by 49 percent in June, data showed on Friday, despite an overall drop in trading volumes across all European emissions exchanges.
Climex last month traded 12.2 million metric tons of EU Allowances (EUAs), the greenhouse gas permits issued under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, up from 8.2 million traded in May and 183 percent above April's levels.
"In February we intensified the activities of our trade facilitation desk and hired two new staff who are actively approaching our members to help them trade and bring volumes to the platform," said Sascha Bloemhoff, Climex's commercial director.
According to data published by the European Climate Exchange on Wednesday, Europe-wide exchange-traded volumes dropped by 12 percent in June to 489.6 million metric tons.
Some observers expressed concern over the rise in Climex's spot volumes after a spike in French emissions exchange BlueNext's volumes sparked rumors of tax fraud. They said fraudsters might now target the Amsterdam-based exchange.
"Because of what's rumored to have happened in France, we've put new member applications on hold while we review our application criteria and procedures," Bloemhoff said. "We had four new members in May and have processed none since."
The French Budget Ministry last month made carbon permits exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in France in order to prevent a potential multi-million euro scam. The Paris prosecutor's office later confirmed a probe was under way.
Both BlueNext and the French government said there is no evidence that fraud has occurred on the exchange.
Bloemhoff is confident that through its practices, Climex is not a target for so-called carousel fraud.
Also called missing trader fraud, it involves fraudsters importing goods VAT-free from other countries, selling them domestically and charging VAT, then disappearing without paying the tax to the government.
"The clearing of trades of unregulated, non-compliance companies based in the Netherlands always happens through the UK entity of the clearing house, so no VAT is applicable," Bloemhoff said.
(Editing by Peter Blackburn)