Warsaw used the last argument it had against “Nord Stream – 2”. Polish regulator UOKiK announced that it was fining Gazprom and five European partner companies in the pipeline project for banned joint activities. Poland wants to receive $7.5 billion from the Russian company and $61 million from Europeans, UOKiK head Tomasz Kristny said.
“Gazprom and its five partner companies are fined 10% of the annual turnover, which is the maximum penalty under Polish law,” said the head of the Polish regulator, saying that Gazprom is fined 29 billion PLN, and the five other companies – Engie Energy, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall – more than 234 million PLN.
“An unprecedented decision and the imposition of a maximum fine is the result of an investigation conducted by UOKiK against the company that is responsible for the construction and management of “Nord Stream – 2″ without the necessary consent of the president of UOKiK,” – said in a report from the regulator, which indicated that companies are given 30 days to break agreements on construction financing. UOKiK said it was ready for “Gazprom” to appeal against the decision on the fine.
Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was confident that “Gazprom” will respond to Poland.
“The regulator’s actions are politically motivated and the fine is illegal and will be challenged, as well as previous fines,” said Alexei Grivach, deputy director of the National Energy Security Fund (NESF). The expert suggested imagining the situation if the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) fined the Polish company PGNiG under an imaginary pretext. “What are the chances to confirm this decision in international courts? The regulator does not risk anything but its reputation. But they probably do not care much about it,” said the Deputy Director of FNEB.
As EADaily reported, this summer the Polish antitrust regulator decided to fine Gazprom 213 million PLN (50 million EUR) for its refusal to provide confidential information about the financing of Nord Stream 2, which Warsaw could then use against the project.
“Tomasz Chruszny, Chairman of the Polish Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (UOKiK) imposed a fine of almost PLN 213 million on Gazprom – a result of lack of cooperation in the investigation related to the construction of the Nord Stream – 2 gas pipeline,” UOKiK reported. The UOKiK specified that the Polish regulator brought charges of non-cooperation both to Gazprom and its partners in the Nord Stream-2 project: Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall.
“During this trial, the chairman of UOKiK appealed for documents relating to the case also to Gazprom, but the company refused to provide information important for the ongoing proceedings,” – said in a statement of the department.
In 2016, Warsaw refused the Russian company that its five European partners were shareholders in Nord Stream 2 AG, which is the operator of “Nord Stream – 2”. Then Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell, and Wintershall entered into contracts with Gazprom to finance the project for 4.5 billion euros, and the Polish regulator announced the launch of an investigation into the financing of the pipeline construction without the necessary legal authorization.
“Actually, the purpose of both the joint activities and the financing contract is the same. They are aimed at financing the construction of Nord Stream 2,” the official report of UOKiK said. As part of the investigation, the Polish regulator demanded from partners to provide detailed information and was the first to punish French Engie for refusal – almost $ 45 million. In June, UOKiK told what information the regulator requires. First of all, these are contracts for transportation, distribution, sale, supply, and storage of gas. In fact, UOKiK requires confidential information, which would be a real find for Polish state company PGNiG and American companies and diplomats.
“The legal provisions are clear and the same for everyone, but Gazprom has on several occasions refused to provide documents important for our investigation. “Gazprom cannot act outside the law, so I have instituted proceedings against Gazprom to impose a fine for failure to provide information during the ongoing investigation,” said Tomasz Kristna, Chairman of the UOKiK, the regulator’s press service.