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Antitrust Office confirms €9 million fine against Slovnaft refinery

Slovakia’s Antitrust Office (PMÚ) confirmed a €9 million fine against Slovnaft, Bratislava’s oil refinery, for abuse of its dominant position in the form of discriminatory practices that it used on the Slovak petrol wholesale market in 2006 and on the diesel wholesale market in 2005 and 2006, the SITA newswire reported.

Slovakia’s Antitrust Office (PMÚ) confirmed a €9 million fine against Slovnaft, Bratislava’s oil refinery, for abuse of its dominant position in the form of discriminatory practices that it used on the Slovak petrol wholesale market in 2006 and on the diesel wholesale market in 2005 and 2006, the SITA newswire reported.

PMÚ found that the company’s conduct had an exploitative character and that the company had established objectively unjustified higher prices for some customers. The decision was effective on July 20 but Slovnaft announced that it would appeal the decision to the Bratislava Regional Court.

The Antitrust Office found that Slovnaft set wholesale diesel prices in 2005 and 2006 and petrol prices in 2006 on an individual basis, based on the customers' willingness to pay and whether or not they were likely to switch to a competitor. As a result, customers paid different prices while the differences could not be objectively justified, according to the regulator. Customers who had limited opportunities to leave Slovnaft and go to a rival supplier paid unreasonably higher prices, SITA wrote.

In December 2009, the Bratislava Regional Court overturned a decision by the Antitrust Office which imposed an almost €10-million fine on Slovnaft due to discriminatory practices in 2005 and 2006. In new administrative proceedings opened in 2010, the office again looked at the situation on the relevant market in the given period. The regulator stated it had considered objections set forth by the court and was now imposing a €9 million fine on the refinery.

Slovnaft said it will appeal the fine and said it disagrees with the conclusions of the PMÚ and deems the penalty imposed by it as inappropriate and set in a non-transparent manner, according to a statement released by Slovnaft spokesman Anton Molnár to the TASR newswire. Analyses that served as the starting point for the fine were incorrect and failed to justify the penalty, and Slovnaft will appeal to the Regional Court in Bratislava, Molnár commented.

Source: SITA, TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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