PRAGUE -(Dow Jones)- The Czech carbon dioxide emissions registry OTE AS late Thursday said it is "dramatically extending" the forecast duration of the halt on spot-market trading of emissions allowances to at least six weeks from now.
"In light of the scope of the problem, the duration of the break in emissions trading will extend dramatically (beyond) the original estimate of at least through Jan. 25," Jiri Stastny, the chairman of the OTE registry said in a statement.
The Czech registry of these allowances will effectively be closed and trading halted for the duration due to legal and administrative hurdles in unifying and adopting cross-border norms across Europe. At issue is the current lack of systematic legal language in European Union countries regarding the criminal, electronic theft of emissions allowances.
The Czech registry said it is working with Czech state police, all European emissions registries and officials and institutions in Brussels.
"OTE now is directing [to Brussels] all activity of formulating a systematic European-wide solution, which will return the emissions trade market" to its original condition, Stastny said.
After studying the illegal transactions that were performed in the first half of last week, OTE said there is no way for it to determine the motive of nor the perpetrator who initiated the illegal transfers.
The serial numbers of all stolen allowances have been determined and shared with all European registries. The numbers are also being checked in all emissions futures and derivative markets, OTE said.
Stastny said registry officials in Germany and Estonia have confirmed they together have located 610,000 of the 1.3 million allowances stolen from the Czech registry last week.
A further 500,000 allowances are believed to be in accounts in the U.K., OTE said.
That would account for all allowances stolen from the Czech registry, OTE added.
"Our current priority after locating the lost allowances is their return to the original holders' accounts and to renew confidence in emissions trading," OTE said.
Czech electricity company CEZ AS (BAACEZ.PR), central Europe's largest company by market capitalization, faces a financial hit of EUR10.5 million, based on the EUR14.93 market price of emissions futures Thursday.
Early Thursday, CEZ said 700,000 allowances were stolen from its accounts at the Czech registry during the cyber theft and the company said it would press criminal charges against the perpetrator once identified.
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