Criminal proceedings brought against Olerex on suspicion of bio-fuel fraud

Olerex filling station.
Olerex filling station. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Officials from the Central Criminal Police and the Environmental Board (Keskkonnaamet) are investigating whether AS Olerex deliberately gave false information to the Tax and Customs Board (ETCB) in order to circumvent the bio-fuel requirement of the Liquid Fuels Act. According to the Southern District Prosecutor's Office, which is conducting the investigation, no one has been charged as of yet.

The Liquid Fuel Act states that at least 7.5 percent of fossil fuel sold to consumers must be a renewable fuel, such as bio-fuel. In the summer of 2022, the Environmental Board determined that Olerex is unlikely to meet this requirement within a calendar year. The Environment Agency often reminded the company of this fact. Nonetheless, as of December 20, 2022, Olerex was only about 1 percent compliant with the bio-fuel obligation.

Last December, a ship carrying Olerex fuel arrived in Estonia, where it was sampled by tax and customs officials. The sample was identified as standard winter diesel. Two weeks later, Olerex notified tax and customs authorities that the tanker was transporting HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil), a diesel-like bio-fuel derived from renewable raw materials that would have satisfied Olerex's bio-fuel requirement of 7.51 percent.

Gerd Raudsepp, the prosecutor of the Southern District Prosecutor's Office, said the evidence collected indicated that Olerex submitted false information, but that the criminal proceedings would clarify the details.

"There is reason to believe that Olerex wished to demonstrate that they had met the bio-fuel requirement by delivering fuel on the penultimate day of the year. However, the gathered evidence leads us to believe that this was misrepresented." Raudsepp said that if this proves out to be true, it will constitute a criminal offense.

The corporation was aware that if it did not comply, it could face penalties of up to €10 million, according to Raudsepp. "Therefore, the motivation for the misrepresentation may have been to avoid a possible fine," the prosecutor added. "We will verify this in the criminal proceedings."


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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Kristina Kersa

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