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Bratislava Regional Court cancels €10 million fine against Slovnaft

Bratislava-based crude oil refiner Slovnaft will not be required to pay a fine of almost €10 million (Sk300 million) issued by the Antitrust Office of the Slovak Republic for abusing its dominant market position. On December 15 the Bratislava Regional Court overruled the Antitrust Office’s decision from December 2007 as well as the fine and returned the issue to the office for further proceedings, the SITA newswire reported.

Bratislava-based crude oil refiner Slovnaft will not be required to pay a fine of almost €10 million (Sk300 million) issued by the Antitrust Office of the Slovak Republic for abusing its dominant market position. On December 15 the Bratislava Regional Court overruled the Antitrust Office’s decision from December 2007 as well as the fine and returned the issue to the office for further proceedings, the SITA newswire reported.

According to a legal representative of the Antitrust Office, the authority disagrees with the court’s verdict and the decision will be analyzed and subsequent further moves will be decided. The lawyer did not rule out a new proceeding against Slovnaft.

The refiner welcomed the verdict. Slovnaft spokesman Anton Molnar said that the court did not back the opinion of the Antitrust Office but accepted the arguments presented by Slovnaft which objected to the fine from the moment it was issued.

The Antitrust Office first fined Slovnaft in December 2006 and it was confirmed by the Board of the Antitrust Office in late 2007 after the refiner appealed it. The authority had ruled that Slovnaft set prices for customers without informing individual clients about criteria considered in deciding on allowances and extra charges, even if the clients asked for the information. The Antitrust office believed Slovnaft made price adjustments in a different and discriminatory way without any objective reason.

The authority claims that Slovnaft applied this different discount policy between January 1 and December 31, 2005, saying that the company’s business policy discriminated against Shell Slovakia, charging it higher prices than those it charged OMV Slovensko, despite the fact that Shell had bought a higher volume of petrol. SITA

Compiled by Michaela Stanková from press reports
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