‘Follow the Money’: Hard-Hitting Danish Drama Documents Wind Industry Corruption, Australian Sequel Promised

follow the money

STT has just gorged on two episodes of what is presented as well crafted drama, but which to STT followers will play out like a hard-hitting documentary.

Australia’s SBS started screening ‘Follow the Money’ a couple of weeks ago, the plot-line for Episode 1 is described as follows:

Mads, a police detective, is called out to investigate a body washed ashore near a wind farm. At first, it merely looks like an industrial accident, but the case implicates the upper echelons of Energreen – one of Denmark’s most successful and leading energy companies. The CEO is charismatic Sander, and a young lawyer, Claudia, is working hard to advance in the company. Nicky, a former car thief and mechanic, has put his life of crime behind him for his girlfriend’s sake, but his new colleague Bimse tempts Nicky with a chance to make a quick buck.

From the creators of Borgen, Follow the Money is as slick as any of the recent crop of Nordic Noir crime dramas.  While the wind-cult Weekly, The Guardian gave it a critical pasting when the BBC aired it in Britain back in March (probably something to do with it being just a tad inconsistent with green-left groupthink) –  STT gives it five stars.

Indeed, Follow the Money comes with an STT consumer warning: “this TV series is more addictive than crack cocaine”.

For our Australian followers, Follow the Money screens on Thursday nights at 9:30pm.  For our many international followers, the series is available at SBS On Demand, which will also allow our local followers to catch up on the first two episodes: for episode one click here and episode two here. You can view it on a PC, Smart TV or iPad etc.

The site adds a new episode after it goes to air, so return to SBS On Demand to Follow the Money. For a taste, here’s the trailer:

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Without giving too much away, the company at the centre of the story, Energreen, is filled with cocksure and arrogant types, of the kind that you might find swanning around with wind power outfits like, Infigen and Pacific Hydro.

follow the money peter

Keep an eye out for one character who STT is certain was modelled on Vesta’s Australian pinup boy, Ken McAlpine (the physical resemblance to Ken is good, but the character’s similarly channelled arrogance and narcissism is uncanny).

The lone wolf detective, Mads finds roadblocks being thrown up at every turn by his superior officers, which smack of wind industry corruption and interference.

Of course Denmark, the birthplace of Vestas, is no stranger to wind industry sleaze, corruption and fraud.

Vestas and its slick financial dealings have, no doubt, provided Follow the Money’s scriptwriters with plenty of material to work with.

The plot-line reads a whole lot like the trouble that Vesta’s Chief Financial Officer, Henrik Nørremark and a band of its executives found themselves in back in 2013, having engaged in a run of fraudulent transactions that cost the company around 140 million kroner.

Just like Follow the Money, the boys from Vestas found themselves under police scrutiny; and, thereafter, the company did everything it could to quarantine itself from a PR nightmare – cutting the former corporate heroes loose and leaving them for dead (see our post here).

Now, turning closer to home let’s take a sneak peek at Australia’s own Follow the Money documentary sequel.

The Pilot for the Series kicks off in Australia’s Federal Parliament during Senate Estimates held on 5 May 2016 (the last session of play before Parliament was dissolved ready for an election in July).

Chris Back

Chris Back loves getting his hands dirty.

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WA Liberal Senator, Chris Back starts off with a little probing of the Clean Energy Regulator, Chloe Munro (keep a lookout for her doppelgänger in the Danish version of Follow the Money) on the topic of around $100 million worth of Renewable Energy Certificates pocketed by Babcock and Brown (aka Infigen or Energreen), which were paid out based on a signature that the CER has, despite some effort, been unable to verify. Here’s the Script for ‘Follow the Money, Downunder’, Scene 1 (taken from Hansard):

Senator BACK: Thanks Ms Munro and thank you for the information before lunch, it was very interesting. Again, I appreciate you correcting the answer—217, I think it was. At the end of stage 1 of your explanation you mentioned that on July 7 2004 Babcock and Brown lodged a new application for registry to accredit a power station showing Lake Bonney Wind Farm Pty Ltd as the applicant.

What concerned me, and I am asking for your response, is that you said it is not clear who signed the declaration on behalf of the company on that form; the signature is illegible. That is of enormous concern to me. The CER would have issued certificates to that organisation since then, probably of values—of what?—of $100 million?

Ms C Munro: I could not estimate that on the run.

Senator BACK: My guestimate is somewhere between $70 million and $160 million, based on a document the signature on which was not able to be verified. What action can be taken?

Ms C Munro: Perhaps to set your mind at rest with respect to that: first of all we were retrieving records from our predecessor organisation, the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, so I cannot speak about the precise processes they would have followed at the time. But I think they would have been in a position to verify that the signature was the signature of somebody they had probably been dealing with, because usually there is an exchange of correspondence and so on before the actual accreditation. I think the fact that at this stage we cannot make out the signature does not mean to say that it was unknown to them.

To be honest, my own signature, on its own, is not always decipherable. What I think was missing was that the block where the person’s name was written separately had not been filled in. But taken with the other information that would have been there at the time, I do not think it suggests an impropriety in that regard.

Going to the question that you asked before, the point is that the legal person is the ‘entity’. This person is an authorised officer. Clearly, it is important to verify that the signature is from the authorised officer. But at this stage I do not think that we have any reason to believe there was a problem in that regard.

Senator BACK: Sure. Can I have an assurance then that as a result of the Renewable Energy Regulations regulation 3L coming into effect in December 2012 that an omission of that nature would not be repeated?

Ms C Munro: No. I think that generally we have tightened up a lot of our standing operating procedures. I think that in terms of verifying who signatories are and that the authorised officers are the appropriate people across all our schemes, we probably have some more consistent processes there.

Senator BACK: Thank you. I will just go back to question 222 from the previous estimates. I asked you about the membership of the Clean Energy Council. Are you able to give the committee an assurance—if not now, then take it on notice—that members of the board, when there has been a matter involving an organisation with which they have an association, have in fact excluded themselves from any decisions regarding that particular entity? I would imagine that, with good governance, the board minutes would indicate that a person has excluded themselves from the debate.

Ms C Munro: I cannot give you that assurance on behalf of the Clean Energy Council, although I absolutely agree with you that that is normal governance. What I can say for background is: the Clean Energy Council board is a representative body, as many industry associations are, and board members are drawn from amongst participants in the industry. The chair revolves fairly frequently. Until recently it was Michael Fraser, who was the predecessor of the current chief executive of AGL, for example.

But I think, more significantly, the co-regulation takes place between ourselves and the Clean Energy Council is on matters that relate to the small-scale scheme—things like accreditation of installers, listing of components like panels and so on. So, those matters I think, generally, would not be decided by the council; they would be decided at the executive level. The council members are more likely to be participants in the large-scale renewable energy targets, in which the Clean Energy Council does not have a regulatory role. That is a long way of saying: I cannot advise you on how the Clean Energy Council conducts its meetings, because we are not a member of it. I think it is unlikely that there are occasions in its deliberations for the kind of conflicts that you might be apprehensive about.
Hansard 5.5.16

Hmmm… a former wind industry exec turned government bureaucrat, brushing aside obvious conflicts of interests, deflecting enquiries about fictitious applicants for hundreds of $millions in REC Tax/Subsidy, paid to a wind power outfit that disintegrated in a $10 billion insolvency in 2009 and Phoenixed as Infigen, starts to sound very Danish Noir.

But the drama didn’t end there.

STT champion, John Madigan followed up on the story we covered back in September last year (see our posts here and here) about Pacific Hydro and Acciona presenting fabricated wind farm noise reports (claiming compliance at non-compliant wind farms – Waubra and Cape Bridgewater), allowing them to continue pocketing hundreds of $millions in RECs.

The CER is well aware that both outfits have been relying upon ‘made-to-measure’ noise reports from Marshall Day, but have steadfastly refused the act or investigate.

Now, in classic Follow the Money style, it appears that the Australian Federal Police are hot on the trail of Chloe and her gang.

sen john madigan close

John Madigan stars in ‘Follow the Money, Downunder’.

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Senator MADIGAN: Thank you, Chair. Last year, Ms Munro, I met with the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General to alert them to my concerns surrounding false wind farm noise reporting. As a result of that meeting I was led to believe that the Attorney-General had referred these allegations to the Australian Federal Police for formal investigation. Are you able to confirm whether the AFP has held any discussions with anyone from the office of the Clean Energy Regulator in relation to the CER-accredited Cape Bridgewater and/or Waubra wind farms?

Ms C Munro: Yes, Senator, I am able to confirm that. We were approached in February by the Australian Federal Police, who were making initial inquiries relating to the matters that you put.

They had a meeting with members of my staff in order to understand the way that our schemes worked and how those entities would be accredited.

Following that, and on our advice, they made an information request. I authorised the disclosure of information relating specifically to Cape Bridgewater, and that was done. We have not heard anything further from them, so I am not aware whether they proceeded to a formal investigation—this was their preliminary information gathering. We have had no further contact from them since then.

Senator MADIGAN: Thank you, Ms Munro.

Stay tuned for Episode Two: ‘Feds Skewer CER’

chloe munro

Will Chloe Munro star in the Aussie Sequel?? …

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. No Turbines says:

    “Follow the Money” – a very appropriate title for this series which is an eye-opener for the uninitiated, but all-too-familiar for those of us who have been in the fray. It’s compelling viewing and I look forward to the Australian sequel. It can’t be too far away.

  2. Jackie Rovensky says:

    First – Follow the Money – it’s so scary in its depiction of what is going on around the world with respect to IWT companies and those they work with. Most definitely worth watching even if it makes your blood boil and the air turn blue.

    Secondly – having an illegible signature on a Declaration with no name in the box where the signatory prints their full name – how could this happen surely a signatory on a Declaration document has to have a witness signature along with an Official stamp
    My own signature is appalling but on letters I type my name under the signature, on other documents it is always necessary to clearly write my name, and in many cases there is a witness to my signature and a box or line specifically for this purpose of legibly writing my name.
    If there were other documents prior to the declaration with this person’s signature – as indicated there would be – why is it so difficult to find out who the signatory was/is?
    If they were signing an official declaration/document then their position within the company they are representing should also have been on the document – shouldn’t it?
    Maybe all the officials at the time were inept juniors who believed they were doing the right thing – we shouldn’t misjudge them, after all the industry was in its infancy here in Australia and no one could have envisaged trouble ahead – a ‘handshake’ was enough to ensure everything went OK – wasn’t it!
    The problem was they all had their fingers crossed behind their backs and the ‘handshake’ has since caused a lot of nervous shaking as people are brought before Senate hearings and the like and the ‘handshake’ has been shown to be charged with wind produced electricity and it has sparks flying everywhere with no certainty it will perform when needed.
    Attempting to wriggle out of an awkward situation and avoid answering questions is always indicative of someone with something to hide.
    If this is the standard needed to be a ‘top’ executive or executive’s assistant in this industry or its aligned cohorts I am glad I never aspired to such a position.
    Then maybe I would never have been one of the ‘chosen’ anyway, as they always seem to be like maggots turning, churning, wriggling and squirming together on a rotting mass and I like to keep my environment cluttered maybe, but clean.

  3. Terry Conn says:

    We all look forward to ‘episode 2’ ! Meanwhile, the multi levels of ‘corruption’ surrounding wind farms continues unabated — the Crudine wind farm (near the beautiful town of Mudgee NSW) has just received final formal approval from the NSW PAC based on a peer reviewed ‘noise’ report by Sonus (no less) relating to projected compliance on the standard noise guidelines used by the South Australian EPA. How many reports by how many non wind industry aligned acousticians are there now circulating all over the world that back up the evidence of long suffering individuals (as recorded in the recent Australian senate enquiry) are there that ‘prove’ those guidelines to be absurd – these approval authorities cannot possibly be ignorant of the reality yet continue to avoid altering the guidelines, in my view this is institutionalised ‘corruption’ of the most insidious kind. It is amazing that the ‘entertainment industry’ has actually cottoned on to this corruption and in its own way doing something about it.

    • All true Terry but there’s yet another dimension to the stench of corruption surrounding the approval of the Crudine wind farm. In an interview today with 2GB’s Alan Jones, local farmer Penny Hundy, herself likely to be adversely impacted by the Crudine wind farm, revealed that the supposedly, independent peer reviewed noise monitoring document completed for the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission had been “edited” by a noise consultant working for the NSW Department of Planning.
      So it seems it’s not enough that the noise assessment guidelines are tailored to suit the needs of the wind industry, but it’s necessary also to doctor a peer reviewed assessment report that’s been prepared by a wind friendly noise consultant based on those guidelines?
      It’s just as well we’ve got a wind farm commissioner and crime fighters like ICAC to look after the interests of rural Australians. …Sarc off

  4. Melissa says:

    Too often we’re told information is lost or unavailable to us particularly in regards to the planning department. I don’t mind at all being corrected if I have misunderstood the CER…”Probably have some more consistent processes there” says Ms Munro….. Poor practices seems common to this industry, yet the CER have the responsibility to dole out one to two hundred millions of dollars of taxpayer funding and thats to just one outfit. How much do people like MS Munro get paid for a job they can’t get right?? She and the CER seem unable to fill in the blanks, answer direct questions, blames the preceding office…. How may the CER have a co-regulatory relationship with the CEC on small scale operations and yet not the large scale renewables and also not know how the CEC meetings and its business are conducted? Accreditation of installers is another matter entirely, it costs the installers a small fortune to be accredited, registered, trained etc by the CEC and with no guarantees of employment. Why would the CER be involved in accreditation of installers? The CEC is on a good wicket making loads of money from the installers required to pay an annual fee to design and install solar panels etc. Non-compliancy to permits to operate, to have neighbours complaining of noise and health issues and for the CER and the CEC and its weevil executives to turn a blind cheek to those complaints and to also encourage the stockpiling of LSGC’s in case they run out….. I can hardly wait for STT to release episode 2 and wouldn’t be adverse to any news flashes regarding the investigations into the CBWF.

Trackbacks

  1. […] way, it’s fitting that the great wind power fraud is taking European ‘investors’ – of the Energreenmold – to the […]

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