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Socar Georgia says fifteen mln GEL fine is unfair

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 20
Socar Georgia Petroleum, which has been fined with more than 15 million GEL, claims that the fine is unfair and intends to restore its image through legal means.

The company stresses that the accusations of the Competition Agency as if the company together with some other petrol providers set artificial obstacles and retained high prices for the product stand far from reality.

They claim that the company has cooperated with the agency since it was established and presented all the documentation demanded by the body.

“We have never violated the law. We have already brought 1, 260, 000, 000 GEL into the state budget and employed 1, 500 individuals. The assessments made by the Competition Agency are regrettable and we will continue protecting own interests through civilized methods,” the company states.

Socar, Gulf, Rompetrol, Wissol and Lukoil were ordered to collectively pay a 55 million GEL fine for acting in concert while determining fuel prices in the local market.

Specifically, Socar should pay 14,381,385 GEL, Gulf - 11,267,384 GEL, Rompetrol - 10,845,806 GEL, Wissol - 10,426,393 GEL and Lukoil 4,740,260 GEL.

The remaining money was divided among smaller oil companies: Aaroni Ltd, Partnior Batumi, Trans Service, N Service, Didube 2009, Saridon Jijeishvili, MG Ltd, Adjara Partner, Partner 2010, Partner, G +, T4 Ltd, Rom Company, Gigo Ltd, Norex, ST Oil, Sab Pertrol, L&M, Ksilisi, Iber Company Petroleum, Geo Service and Rand Oil. Each company must pay 200 GEL.

The Competition Agency states that between 2008 and 2014 the five oil companies sold fuel in their branches at a fixed price based on mutual agreement.

The Agency also stated the oil companies imposed artificial obstructions while doing business.

The Competition Agency stresses that it spent eight months studying the activities of the five oil companies for to some to the above mentioned conclusion.

The Competition Agency was established in 2015 through the demand of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili as in Spring 2015 fuel price significantly drooped abroad while the process has not been reflected on Georgia. As the situation caused question marks among people the PM ordered the creation of a separate agency focused on fuel related issues.

Responding to case PM Gharibashvili said that the government did not involve in the process and if the companies had certain complains they could appeal the solution to the court.

“The process is fully transparent. I appeal to companies operating in Georgia not to get stressed.

“We encourage competitive business environment. However, the competition should be healthy and fair. The government should protect the interests of business and consumers at the same time,” Gharibashvili said.