8 Jun 2010 16:23

Regulator could lower Rosneft fine considerably if settlement reached

SUZDAL. June 8 (Interfax) - The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) could lower a fine of 5.28 billion rubles on Rosneft for breach of anti-monopoly legislation considerably if the oil producer signs an amicable agreement.

"If it [Rosneft] acknowledges its guilt, we might cut the fine to 1% [of annual turnover on the market in which the offenses were committed] - the law prevents us from going any lower. Their fine is 1.1% and 4% or more under the second wave [of FAS investigations] so theoretically, the fine could be reduced 75%," FAS chief Igor Artemiyev told a press conference in Suzdal.

"We don't intend to sign any settlements [with Rosneft] without permission from the government," Artemiyev said. And the FAS never signs agreements unless a company acknowledges its guilt," he said.

The Moscow Arbitration Court at the end of May postponed an appeal by Rosneft against a FAS ruling of July 29, 2009 on breach of anti-monopoly legislation in the fuel market until June 21. Court officials said Rosneft itself asked for the appeal to be put back because an out-of-court settlement was in process.

The case had previously been put back until the Supreme Arbitration Court heard an appeal against a fine imposed on TNK-BP . The Supreme Arbitration Court on May 25 upheld a decision by the FAS to fine TNK-BP more than 1 billion rubles.

The FAS on July 29, 2009 deemed that Rosneft had abused its commanding position in the fuel market by withdrawing products from circulation, pushing wholesale prices up, restricting competition and diminishing the interests of other parties.

The FAS deemed that the violations were committed in the markets for automobile gasolines, diesel and aircraft fuel in the first half of last year, and it fined Rosneft 5.28 billion rubles.