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Romanian court rejects appeal against MOL Romania fine

The Bucharest Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by the Romanian unit of Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, together with local peers Rompetrol Downstream and ENI Romania, against a fine levied by the competition authority for cartel activity, internet portal Hotnews said on Monday.

MOL Romania will appeal the decision, MOL said when asked about the news of the ruling.

The parties have five days to file an appeal of the first-instance ruling.

The Romanian competition authority fined MOL Romania 80.3 million Romanian lei (€18.5m) for cartel activity in January.

MOL said earlier the alleged breach involved the common withdrawal of Eco Premium pre-mixed unleaded petrol from the market in 2008.

After a prohibition on leaded petrol was introduced in Romania in 2005, refineries replaced the tetraethyl lead with other metallic additives, thus creating the ECO Premium line. MOL Romania acquired 100% of ECO Premium from local producers or from distributors, as MOL had ceased producing petrol with metallic additives by October 2004. ECO Premium sales decreased until 2008, as the number of older cars that used the fuel declined.

"MOL Romania states that withdrawing ECO Premium from its fuels portfolio was its individual business decision and not the result of an anticompetitive agreement, concerted practice," MOL said the time.

The fine on MOL Romania is equivalent to 3% of its turnover in 2010, MOL noted.