Lukoil Case Postponed
The BANKER weekly predicted in previous issues that the case Bulgaria's oil refinery Lukoil has initiated against Customs Agency over its revoked license will be postponed. This is exactly what happened - it's next court hearing will be on September 28. Obviously Bulgarian magistrates have decided to allow Russian oil giant to continue operating without a license. Last week (August 31) they decided that the court-appointed technical expertise can be ready in late September. It should make clear about something everyone knows - and namely whether there were measuring devices connecting Lukoil with the country's customs offices, which actually was the reason for the revoking of the refinery's license. Experts should answer the questions where the instruments are (which are actually missing), how and for how long they were placed. This was pleaded by the defence and was rtecognised by the court. The three lawyers of Lukoil had loads of requests, among them to question witnesses (such as the head of the Customs Agency Vanyo Tanov). For all in the courtroom it became clear that these are attempts to prolong the case. These requests were rejected, though.
Top manager Valentin Zlatev's defenders will try to prove that the management of the refinery was not opposed to complying with the ordinance for placing these measuring instruments but due to time limitations and the scale of the plant the period which was prescribed by law was not enough. The thesis of the Customs is just the opposite. At the hearing, lawyers of the agency provided data for all other companies that had to be licensed - they all did that within the time limits set by law. Interesting topic for reflection on the role of civic associations gave the appearance in court of the President of the Bulgarian Oil and Gas Association Andrey Delchev, who appeared in the role of Lukoil's solicitor. He explained his interest in this case with his objections to the ordinance still before its adoption and coming into force. Moreover, Mr. Delchev requested suspension of the process against this ordinance because there is still a pending case in the Supreme Administrative Court, which is led by other petroleum companies. The court refused to take into account this new claim.