Gazprom offices targeted in EU antitrust raids

The Logo of Gazprom pictured at the Germany headquarters in Berlin, Germany, 1 March 2022. [EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN]

Russian gas company Gazprom’s offices in Germany were raided by EU antitrust regulators, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday (30 March), as the EU watchdog ramped up its investigation into the company’s gas supplies to Europe.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in January asked gas companies including Gazprom about tight supplies after accusations the Russian giant was withholding extra production that could be released to lower rising prices.

Gazprom quizzed on high energy prices, EU's Vestager says

The European Union’s anti-trust chief on Thursday (13 January) said she had asked gas companies including Gazprom about tight supplies after accusations the Russian giant was holding back extra production that could be released to lower soaring prices.

Vestager was likely to intensify information gathering on Gazprom’s European businesses, a person familiar with the regulator’s thinking told Reuters last month.

The European Commission declined to comment. Gazprom Export said it had no comment. Gazprom and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied withholding gas supplies, saying that all firm and long-term obligations have been met.

The EU competition watchdog raided the offices of Gazprom Germania GmbH and Wingas GmbH, one of the people said. Bloomberg was the first to report the raids.

Companies found breaching EU antitrust rules face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.

EU antitrust regulators have raided Gazprom offices before. A probe started in 2011 and ended in 2018 after the Russian gas export monopolist agreed to reforms aimed at bringing down gas prices and allowing rivals a foothold in eastern Europe.

The probe concerned Gazprom’s alleged abuse of its dominance in the gas markets in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

As expected, Vestager lets Gazprom off the hook

The EU’s antitrust regulators have ended their investigation into Gazprom without imposing any fines, the Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced on Thursday (24 May). The Russian gas giant welcomed the EU’s decision and promised to reform.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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