HomeBussinessCerta lawsuit claims 12 million litres of biofuel ‘went missing’

Certa lawsuit claims 12 million litres of biofuel ‘went missing’


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Certa claims, in proceedings admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday, the provider, Green D Project Ireland Ltd, gave misleading information the month before its UK majority shareholder, Green Biofuels Ltd, went into administration by saying it had 17 million litres of fuel in Ringaskiddy, Cork.

Certa, which operates a number of filling stations as well as providing home heating oil and fuel to the business sector, entered into an agreement to buy some 18 million litres of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) biofuel which is made from waste vegetable oils and animal fats and is a low emission substitute for diesel. In 2022, in light of general concerns about risks to the security of the electricity supply in Ireland, Certa sought to ensure it would have a large supply of biofuel in case it became necessary to power back-up generators.

It entered into an agreement with Green D to provide 18 million litres of HVO biofuel for the sum of €26.7m.

In an affidavit, Andrew Graham, former managing director of Certa, said his firm paid the full purchase price to Green D in December 2022.

Green D also agreed to store and ring-fence Certa’s 18 million litre supply in the Cork facility, he said. The money was paid to what Certa believed was a Green D account but which turned out to be a Green Biofuels account, he said.

Concerns began to arise in January 2023 when tank “dip” reports from Cork recorded storage of just 4.7 million litres.

In September, Toshko Botev, Green Biofuels UK’s commercial director, provided Certa with a tank dip measurement stating there was 17.3 million litres in the storage facility, he said.

When Green Biofuels entered administration in the UK the next month, Mr Graham sought but was refused permission to carry out its own tank dips. Mr Graham received a WhatsApp message from a Green D representative stating the dip was just over eight million litres.

Mr Graham said this was very concerning as it meant 250 trucks would have had to have transported 9.3 million litres out of the facility over nine days to make the level drop to eight million litres. He did not believe it was “a realistic possibility”.

When Certa representatives did get in to carry out measurements, on October 11, it was established there was 7.7 million litres. Certa has got just 5.8 million litres of the total 18 million litres it paid for, he said. The whereabouts of 12.2 million is “unknown”.

After Green Biofuels went into administration in the UK, the joint administrators then presented a petition to the Irish High Court to wind up Green D.

This was resisted by Green D and in December, the court refused to confirm the provisional liquidators.

Green D then brought proceedings against Certa in relation to the use of the biofuel it supplies (known as GD+), and sought €24.5m.

Mr Graham said that as part of an agreement between the parties involving the payment of money to Certa over Easter, it was also agreed the Certa case should be admitted to the Commercial Court.

Yesterday, on the application of Michael Cush SC, for Certa, and consent from Paul McGarry SC, for the defendant, Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court and approved agreed directions for the progress of the proceedings.

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