In a move that adds a twist to Germany's efforts to bolster its liquefied natural gas (LNG) import capacity, the government has announced an anti-money laundering (AML) probe into Deutsche ReGas, the operator of a proposed LNG terminal on the Baltic coast.
The planned terminal, which has faced opposition from local authorities, is part of Germany's strategy to reduce its reliance on Russian gas following the Ukraine crisis.
The investigation comes in response to a request from the resort town of Binz on Ruegen island, the proposed location for the two floating LNG plants. The town, which has been vocally opposing the terminal due to environmental concerns, asked the anti-money laundering authorities to delve into the financial activities of Deutsche ReGas. The review is expected to be led by Germany's financial watchdog, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).
Germany's vision includes the deployment of two floating LNG terminals with a combined annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas. These terminals are to be stationed off Ruegen island and are slated to be managed privately by Deutsche ReGas. However, before proceeding with the leasing of the company's floating storage and reception units (FSRUs), the government intends to conduct an "in-depth examination of the suitability and reliability of the potential contract partner," as stated in a letter dated August 3 by Philipp Nimmermann, the state secretary of the economy ministry.
The focus of the investigation will encompass an assessment of Deutsche ReGas' financial capacity and the origins of its funding. This decision was prompted by concerns raised by the municipality of Ostseebad, who conducted a review of the company's financial background, revealing what they termed an "opaque financing background." This development led to the resort town's call for a comprehensive probe by anti-money laundering authorities.
Deutsche ReGas swiftly responded to the allegations, asserting that it "resolutely rejected" any claims of financial misconduct. Despite the company's denial, both Business Insider and Stern magazine have covered the allegations in their previous reports.
The investigation introduces a layer of complexity to Germany's LNG ambitions, which are driven by the need to diversify energy sources and reduce dependence on Russian gas. With geopolitical considerations and environmental opposition at play, the outcome of this anti-money laundering probe could have far-reaching implications for both Germany's energy security strategy and the prospects of the proposed LNG terminal on the Baltic coast.
By fLEXI tEAM