EC May Charge Gazprom in Anti-Trust Case
Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom may be charged with with applying antitrust practices, according to European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia.
Almunia announced at a press conference in Vilnus that the EU regulatory bodies were preparing a charge sheet against the company.
He said that it was too early to say what steps the EC would take, adding that they had reached the stage of preparing a statement of objections, the first step in any legal proceedings.
"We suspect that Gazprom has been hindering the free flow of gas across Member States and the diversification of sources of supply. We also suspect that it has imposed unfair prices on its customers," Almunia declared.
He explained that the EC would examine Gazprom's practices in eight countries, among which Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
If Gazprom is found guilty of breaching competition rules, it faces a fine of up to 10% of its annual revenues (USD 148 B in 2012), or around USD 15 B.
In September 2012, the EC initiated anti-trust proceedings against Gazprom on allegations that the Russian energy giant may be abusing its monopoly position on the market, obstructing the free flow of gas to EU Member States, and unfairly charging its customers by linking the price of its gas to oil, according to reports of CNBC.
Gazprom has denied accusations of breaching EU competition rules, with Alexander Medvedev, chief executive of Gazprom Export saying that the investigation had been driven by political motivations, not economic performance.
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