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EC not officially notify Gazprom about anti-monopoly probe launch

September 05, 2012, 17:34 UTC+3

In case of Gazprom fine may exceed ten billion euros

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MOSCOW, September 5 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian gas major Gazprom has not received an official notification from the European Commission about the launch of the formal stage of an anti-monopoly investigation in the operation of the Russian gas company in the European Union, Gazprom said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The launch of the formal stage of the investigation does not mean that Gazprom is declared guilty in any violation of the EU anti-monopoly legislation,” the statement runs.

“Gazprom focuses on the observance of all provisions of international law and legislation in the countries, where Gazprom Group operates. The work of Gazprom Group on the EU market, particularly the gas pricing principles, meets the standards, which other gas producers and exporters use,” the company reported.

“We hope that during the investigation our rights and legitimate interests, which are specified in the EU and international law, will be observed properly. It will be also taken into account that Gazprom, which was founded beyond the EU jurisdiction, is a company, which is vested with publicly important functions and the status of a strategic organisation, which the state authorities control, under Russian legislation,” Gazprom reported.

“Gazprom has always called for a decent cooperation with the European Commission and is ready to continue relations for further constructive cooperation,” Gazprom said in the statement.

On Wednesday, the European Commission launched a formal procedure “to investigate whether the Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom violates European rules of competition, particularly in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe.” According to the European legislation, a fine for violation of the rules of competition may reach ten percent from the annual turnover of the company, so, in case of Gazprom this fine may exceed ten billion euros.

The European Commission will investigate three main accusations against Gazprom. First, this is the abuse of dominating positions on the markets of gas supplies in Central and Eastern Europe through the division of markets and obstacles “for free gas supplies in Europe.” Secondly, Gazprom is accused of putting up obstacles for diversification of the supplies of energy resources in the European Union. Meanwhile, the Russian energy company is suspected of “imposing overstated gas prices on its consumers, and these prices groundlessly linked with the oil prices.”

The European anti-monopoly investigation against Gazprom is targeted “only against this company and is not targeted against Russia,” spokesman of the European Commission Antoine Colombani said on Wednesday. He also noted that Gazprom fully cooperates with the European Commission on all issues, which are related with competition and does not take any actions, which could have hampered the work of inspectors.

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