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Finance Ministry reduces Slovnaft fine

THE INTERNAL Finance Control Section of the Finance Ministry (MF) has reviewed the fine levied against Slovnaft, Slovakia’s biggest oil refiner, for price indiscipline, said Mikuláš Gera, of the Finance Ministry’s press department on July 8, the TASR news agency reported.

The ministry reaffirmed that it would penalize Slovnaft for breaches of price discipline. However, it has decided to reduce its fine by Sk11.4 million (€294,000) to Sk1.34 billion (€34.5 million).

Gera added that the Slovnaft issue was recently returned to the first level of authority (Interior Finance Control Section of the Finance Ministry) by Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš. Mikloš's decision of May 19, 2005 cancelled the Finance Ministry’s decision of February 14, 2005.

According to Gera, the reduction in the fine is related to science and research costs connected with the environment, marketing, and advertising. These costs were recognized by the first level of authority as legitimate, unlike in its previous findings.

The Interior Finance Control Section examined and confirmed the legality of Slovnaft profits for the year 2004, along with the company's science and research costs, the commission charged on petrol by filling station operators, and the penalties imposed by Slovnaft on these operators for presenting incorrect data.

The finance ministry saw the need to review its arguments in order to strengthen its case and minimize the risk of losing any court action.

According to the law on administrative action, Slovnaft can serve a notice of appeal against the MF decision within 15 days after notice of the fine is served. The Finance Minister, acting as the higher-level authority in this case, will decide on a possible notice of appeal within 30 days.

Compiled by Marta Ďurianová from press reports
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