EU CO2 permits missing from registry due to virus
* Holcim says permits missing from Romanian registry account
* EU says permits went missing due to computer virus
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - One million European carbon permits have gone missing from the Romanian subsidiary of cement company Holcim's (HOLN.VX) emissions registry account due to a computer virus, the EU Commission said on Wednesday.
Holcim Romania says on its website that its account with the Romanian national registry for greenhouse gases was illegally accessed and 1.6 million carbon permits went missing.
Subsequently, 600,000 permits have been traced but 1 million permits are still unaccounted for.
"In the recent event, the use of a computer virus (called Nimkey) was reported," an EU Commission spokeswoman told Reuters.
"Although this virus is mostly targeting U.S. banking institutions, it can potentially be used to access user's credentials and perform the transfer of allowances," she added.
Spokespersons from the Romanian registry and Holcim were unavailable for comment on Wednesday due to a Romanian national holiday.
Emissions registries administer carbon permits called EU allowances (EUAs) under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
The scheme caps the emissions of heavy industry like cement and steel companies and forces them to buy permits to cover excess emissions or sell them when emissions are reduced.
The Commission said national registries' security measures are the responsibility of the 27-nation bloc's member states.
"Nevertheless the Commission is continuously looking at providing appropriate measures to secure the ETS," the spokeswoman said.
"All registry users have been reminded to use up-to-date virus detection software and to scan their machines on a regular basis," she added.
After an email "phishing scam" in February, when fraudsters targeted national registries to gain access to carbon accounts, the Commission adopted measures to reduce the risk of unauthorised transactions and fraud. [ID:nLDE61H18W]
Last week the German registry DEHSt was shut down for two days after online scammers "phished" registry accounts by installing a computer virus. [ID:nLDE6AS18M]
Holcim valued the 1 million remaining missing carbon permits at around 15 million euros ($19.54 million).
The identification numbers of the missing permits can be viewed here: here
(Editing by William Hardy)
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