In one of the “Greenwashing 2.0” stories we’ve been following (see here and here), an individual recently was sentenced to over 10 years in jail for his role inÂ runningÂ a fraudulent biofuel tax credits scheme.
A Texas federal judge sentenced Philip Joseph Rivkin to 121 months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $87 million in restitution and forfeit $51 million.
Last year, Rivkin, which is not the individual’s real name, pleaded guilty to making a false statement under the Clean Air Act and to mail fraud for his role in the scheme, which included attempts to defraud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In the plea agreement, he admitted that he falsely generated renewable fuel credits between July 2010 and July 2011 and sold them to oil companies and brokers, generating over $29 million.
Rivkin was indicted in 2014Â for allegedly selling fraudulent renewable identification numbers (RINs). Â The indictmentÂ alleged that an individual using the name Philip Joseph Rivkin controlled and operated Green Diesel LLC and claimed that the company produced millions of gallons of biodiesel at its Houston facility then generated and sold about 45 million RINs based on the claim.
However, according to the indictment, Green Diesel did not actually produce any biodiesel at its facility, and the defendant allegedly made millions of dollars selling the fraudulent RINs.
Because the fraudulent activity in this case did not involve individual green consumers and consumer products such as water bottles, cleaning supplies, or hybrid vehicles, this would not typically be thought of as a greenwashing case.Â But theÂ fraudulent activity does represent a serious instance of greenwashing.
The fraud and resulting damageÂ are recognizableÂ when we view the putative RIN purchasers as green consumers, albeit commercial consumers instead of individuals,Â falling victim to false representations about the validity of renewable energy-based financial products.
A number of fraudulent biodiesel schemes have been perpetrated in the last few years. Â But the authorities have been successful in exposing them and prosecuting the individuals involved. Â Some individuals were sentenced to jail time last year in a similar case in Florida.
In view of the proliferation of fraudulent RIN schemes, the EPA hasÂ promulgated additional regulations to ensure oversight of RIN generation and improve the RIN market.