The National Court opens an oral trial against Iberdrola and four directors for alleged price manipulation

The National Court opens an oral trial against Iberdrola and four directors for alleged price manipulation

The judge of the National High Court Ismael Moreno has agreed to open an oral trial against Iberdrola Generación and four directors, considering that in 2013 the company "devised and put into operation a system to increase the price of the energy it sold" with the aim of "Cause a rise in the price of electricity and harm consumers," as confirmed by ABC.

The head of the Central Court of Instruction Number 2, Ismael Moreno, sends the company and its managers to the bench for a crime related to the market and consumers. Specifically, the judge details that, "in order to achieve" a "higher price in the electricity market", they increased the price in the electricity offers corresponding to their Duero, Sil and Tajo hydroelectric plants between November and December 2013, according to the car he has had access to Ep.

And they did so, he adds, "at a level above the daily market price that prevented the operations from being matched, despite the increase experienced in those days by the prices of electricity in the spot market, which placed it at a cost optimum of opportunity«. »This situation determined the withdrawal of the programming of the aforementioned plants, that is, they stopped producing energy«, adds the judge.

That decision was adopted, he maintains, by Iberdrola's management team made up of the Director of Energy Management, Ángel Chiarri; the person in charge of Optimization, Resource Management and Trading, Gregorio Relaño; the person in charge of Asset Management, José Luis Rapún; and Javier Paradina, responsible for Short-Term Markets and Global Generation.

For the four directors, the Prosecutor's Office requests, respectively, a sentence of two years in prison, with an accessory of special disqualification for employment or public office, profession, trade, industry, commerce, related to the generation or commercialization of electrical energy, and a fine of 12 months with a daily quota of 400 euros, with subsidiary personal liability in case of non-payment of 1 day of deprivation of liberty for every 2 daily quotas not paid.

The Public Ministry also requests that Iberdrola Generación be imposed a fine of 84.891 million euros - four times the benefit obtained - as well as the confiscation of the profits obtained.

"Artifice concocted by the accused"

In his order, the instructor details that Iberdrola broke "the order of merit of the plants in the production dispatch, caused the reduction of electricity generation of the Duero, Sil and Tajo hydroelectric plants, and, as a consequence, that the operations of purchase will be matched with energy from combined cycle plants, which are higher in cost and in a higher price range, situated between €80/90/MWh compared to the average price of energy from hydroelectric plants situated at €45/55/MWh«.

It was from December 24 of that same year, 2013, when "the change in weather conditions due to strong storms and wind caused the reduction in the price of energy due to the significant contribution of renewable sources."

«The consequence of the artifice devised and carried out by the defendants was the increase in the price of electricity by at least €7.156/MWh, which caused damage to demand of at least €107.34 million , taking into account that the same in the period subject to accusation was 15,000 GWh and that the highest cost arising from Iberdrola's action, as we have previously indicated, was €7.156/MWh“, points out the magistrate.

In that period alone, the company dispatched a total of 2.965 million megawatts, "which meant a profit of 21.222 million euros", which would have caused damage to different marketers of that energy.

On freedom

The judge, who maintains the situation of freedom of the directors, gives them a period of ten days to present their defense brief against the private accusation brought by the Association of Consumers and Consumer Users in Action- FACUA, Geoatlanter and Axpo Iberia.

In addition, it imposes on each of the directors the provision of a bond for a total amount of 107.534 million euros. Specifically, 194,666 euros would be to guarantee the payment of fines and the remaining 107,340 million to guarantee the payment of civil responsibilities.

The magistrate agrees that Iberdrola Generación must post a bond for a total amount of 192.231 million. Thus, 84,891 million will be to guarantee the payment of the fines and the remaining 107,340 million to guarantee the payment of the civil responsibilities that derive.

This last amount, that of civil liability, would serve "as compensation to electricity marketers and other natural and legal persons who prove, as final consumers of electricity or guarantors of energy prices, to have suffered or be affected by the increase in energy prices in the period from November 30 to December 23. All the defendants will respond jointly and severally to that amount.

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