Bulgaria’s competition watchdog files price-fixing claim against 6 fuel companies, three of them operating also in Romania

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The Competition Protection Commission of Bulgaria (CPC) has accused six petrol and diesel retailers of forming a cartel in the fuels market.

The companies concerned are Lukoil Bulgaria EOOD, Eko Bulgaria EAD, Shell Bulgaria EAD, OMV Bulgaria OOD, Nis Petrol EOOD, and Petrol AD, novinite.com reports. Three of them, Lukoil, NIS și OMV, are operational in Romania too.

All of them are accused of breaching Article 15 of the Law on Protection of Competition and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The entities in question are yet to comment, novinite.com informs.

The initial probe into suspected price-fixing activities, formally launched in February, included Rompetrol, which is not in the current list of companies the CPC believes are part of the cartel agreement.

The probe was launched after the CPC adopted a sector analysis which showed that they had kept their prices at high levels for long periods of time and failed to react in a timely and adequate manner to decreases in wholesale price and production prices, “which could be the result of anti-competition practices  – cartel agreements”, according to the statement.

Based on its economic and legal analysis, the CPC deems the actions of the retailers mentioned to be “a violation consisting of a prohibited agreement and/or coordinated practice of exchange of pricing information and conducting of a common price policy, as well as exchange of information on the realized sales volumes (market shares) and other market information for the sake of cooperation on pricing.”

Fines in Romania

In Romania, OMV Petrom Marketing SRL lost the lawsuit against the Competition Council in March 2016, but the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) has ruled that the fine should be lower: RON109.8 million instead of RON 137 million, hotnews.ro informs. The ruling was final.

In 2012 the Romanian Competition Council fined six oil companies (OMV Petrom, OMV Marketing, Rompetrol, Eni, Lukoil and MOL) for forming cartel to eliminate a product from the market. The overall fine was of RON 880 million (approx. EUR 205 million), the highest fine in Europe addressed to oil companies.

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