21 Jul 2010 15:24

Constitutional Court won't hear Gazprom Neft appeal of competition law

ST. PETERSBURG. July 21 (Interfax) - Russia's Constitutional Court has declined to hear Gazprom Neft's appeal against competition law, the court told Interfax on Wednesday.

"The complainant has been notified that it will not be heard in light of the fact that the purview of the person with power of attorney that signed the appeal to the Constitutional Court has not been documented in the required fashion," a court spokesman said.

The Constitutional Court said Gazprom Neft could correct the shortcoming and re-file the complaint.

It was reported earlier that Gazprom Neft disputes the constitutionality of the law on protecting competition (N135-FZ) of July 26, 2006, specifically Point 1, Part 3, Article 5 and Point 2, Part 1, Article 6.

A Gazprom Neft representative told Interfax that the complaint also asks the Constitutional Court to consider whether the FAS acted constitutionally in applying anti-monopoly law.

Gazprom Neft filed the complaint after Supreme Arbitration Court upheld the legality of fines the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) levied on TNK-BP .

The May 25 ruling set a precedent by overturning lower court rulings that had struck down the fines totaling 1.112 billion rubles levied against TNK-BP for abusing its dominant position on the market.

The fines against TNK-BP are part of the first wave of FAS charges against the oil companies for monopoly pricing made in the fall of 2008. They include 1.508 billion rubles in fines against Rosneft , 1.443 billion rubles against Lukoil, and 1.3 billion rubles against Gazprom Neft.

A second wave of fines in the summer of 2009 was even bigger: 6.54 billion rubles against Lukoil, 5.28 billion rubles against Rosneft, 4.197 billion rubles against TNK-BP and 4.675 billion rubles against Gazprom Neft.

FAS chief Igor Artemyev said recently that his agency would not agree reduced fines for violations among the four leading oil companies without a special instruction from the prime minister. The FAS has received just one proposal for a settlement, from Rosneft, which has been submitted to the government for examination.