BUSINESS IN SHORT

€10-million fine for Slovnaft cancelled

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.

An attorney from the Antitrust Office said that the office disagrees with the court’s verdict and that its decision will be analysed and subsequent further moves will be determined. A new proceeding against Slovnaft was not ruled out.

The refiner welcomed the verdict. Slovnaft spokesman Anton Molnár said that the court did not agree with the opinion of the Antitrust Office and accepted the arguments presented by Slovnaft, which had objected to the fine from the moment it was issued.

The Antitrust Office first fined Slovnaft in December 2006 and it was subsequently 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 customers about the criteria it considered in deciding on allowances and extra charges, even if customers asked for this information.

The Antitrust Office charged that Slovnaft made price adjustments in a discriminatory manner without any objective reasons.

The authority claimed that Slovnaft applied this unequal 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.


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