No Written Objections from Alleged Fuel Cartel Participants in Bulgaria

Energy | April 17, 2012, Tuesday // 12:50|  views

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The four Bulgarian fuel retailers accused of entering into a cartel agreement have not filed written objections with the Commission on Protection of Competition (KZK) within the statutory 30-day period.

In mid-March, the anti-trust watchdog accused Lukoil Bulgaria EOOD, Rompetrol Bulgaria AD, Naftex Petrol EOOD and OMV Bulgaria OOD of agreeing among themselves the prices of fuels they sell.

The KZK is expected to take months to come up with a final decision on the existence of a fuel market cartel between the four companies due to the cumbersome and slow proceedings.

After the ruling of the watchdog stating the existence of a cartel agreement was handed to the four firms, they had 30 days to file written objections.

The deadline has already expired.

Within the next 30 days, the four companies will be able to seek a closed-doors hearing by the KZK.

Taking into account the additional evidence and the statements, the watchdog will come up with a preliminary decision and if it confirms the existence of a cartel, the KZK will have to send it to the European Commission (EC) due to the breach of EU competition law.

Within a one-month period after examining the evidence, the EC will have to come up with a pronouncement regarding the correctness of the conclusions made by Bulgaria's KZK.

Apart from that, if the fuel market cartel is confirmed, the four fuel retailers will be able to appeal the decision before a three- and a five-panel judge of the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS).

The maximum penalty provided for a company participating in a cartel is 10% from the annual turnover for the duration of the infringement.

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Tags: fuel retailer, Lukoil Bulgaria, Rompetrol Bulgaria, OMV Bulgaria, Naftex Petrol, cartel agreement, price-fixing, Commission on Protection of Competition, KZK, European Commission


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