Bulgarian Customs Agency Head Admits One-Off Defeat in Lukoil Saga
Lukoil will be able to make fuel as it did before the license suspension, Bulgarian Customs Agency head Vanyo Tanov has said, commenting on the latest turn in the saga with the oil processing plant.
Administrative Court Sofia-City (ACSC) stopped Monday the preliminary execution of the license withdrawal ordered by the customs authority.
"We are now waiting for the court to hand down its decision so that we can implement it. We shall take advantage of the right to appeal", Tanov said in a Tuesday phone interview for the morning broadcast of state-owned TV channel BNT.
Tanov was adamant that the decision suspending the tax warehouse operator permits of Lukoil was legally impeccable.
In his words, ACSC's ruling was either issued for reasons of expediency or was politically motivated.
"Our aim is not to stop Lukoil but to make it operate in line with legal requirements", Tanov stressed, adding that the universal observance of the law was a policy of the government.
The Customs Agency Director pointed out that the Lukoil refinery had been explicitly warned four times about what would happen if it failed to install the mandatory measuring devices.
He further reiterated that Monday's court ruling merely halted the preliminary execution of the license withdrawals, which was not the same as a revocation.
Tanov again reminded that the sole purpose of the campaign was to ensure the legal compliance of Lukoil.
He rejected allegations that fuel smuggling would thrive as a result of the suspended tax warehouse operator permits but did not rule out speculative price hikes as a side effect.
Tanov also implied that a halt in Lukoil's operations would give an opportunity to other companies to take its place on the market and offer better-priced fuels.
"I believe that the state will triumph. Lukoil is well aware that it cannot win the case unless it meets legal provisions", Tanov declared.
"Lukoil is undeniably the biggest taxpayer in Bulgaria, but this does not place it above the law", said Krasimir Stefanov, executive director of the National Revenue Agency (NRA) in an interview for Nova TV.
Stefanov explained that Lukoil was found to account for 15% of NRA's revenues, or over BGN 1B.
The NRA head, however, assured that the state would not be deprived of these receipts because the market niche would be filled by a substitute.
Stefanov refused to comment on the allegations that Lukoil had not paid corporate tax for two years and on the feasibility of Lukoil's assertions of accumulating losses.
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