Antimonopoly regulator sues oil companies


Russia's antimonopoly regulator, the FAS, brought lawsuits against the country's largest crude producers - TNK-BP, Gazprom Neft, LUKoil and Rosneft - over market pricing violations which took place at the end of 2008, RIA Novosti reports.

'We brought lawsuits against four companies today... Throughout the fourth quarter of 2008 they did not reduce retail fuel prices, while oil prices were falling,' said Igor Artemyev, the head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).

The four companies also hiked up wholesale prices in January 2009, Artemyev added. He also called the oil companies' behavior a 'challenge' to the Russian government.

'The challenge was issued, and we accepted it,' he said.

Last summer, the FAS fined the four oil producers between 1.1 billion rubles ($31.6 million) and 1.5 billion rubles ($43 million) for abusing their monopoly positions on the market.

'Our new methods suggest that fines will keep on getting bigger,' the FAS head warned on Tuesday.