Romanian prosecutors seize EUR 235 mln worth of Lukoil inventories in tax evasion case

Romanian prosecutors have decided the seizure of oil and fuels inventories worth EUR 235 million belonging to Petrotel Lukoil, the local subsidiary of Russian group Lukoil, according to an announcement from Oil Terminal Constanta, the company which holds these inventories for Lukoil.

This decision is connected to a tax evasion and money laundering case in which Petrotel Lukoil currently investigated. According to the preliminary statements from the prosecutors, the state took a damage of about EUR 230 million from the company.

Last Thursday, prosecutors and local police conducted several searches at the Petrotel Lukoil refinery and other firms belonging to Lukoil.

Representatives of Russian group Lukoil said on Friday that the company provided the Romanian investigators with financial documents and electronic information resources. They also said that no charges were brought against Lukoil Group’s companies or their employees.

“We are sure that the Romanian law-enforcement agencies will sort everything out and a fair decision will be taken. Lukoil has been operating in Romania since 1998 and currently is the largest Russian fuel-and-energy company on the Romanian market. So far, there have been no issues between the company and Romania’s tax authorities or law-enforcement agencies. Taxes to the state budget were made without fail, high-quality products were supplied to the Romanian customers,” Vladimir Nekrasov, first vice-president of Lukoil commented.

The group’s representatives also said that the activity in Ploesti was not halted, and that the refinery was operating as usual.

Then, on Friday, information emerged that Lukoil started the closing procedure for its Petrotel refinery in Ploiesti, which is the third largest refinery in Romania.

The recent events could completely block Lukoil’s operations in Romania, as the company imports oil from Russia via the state owned port operator Oil Terminal which it turns into fuel at the Petrotel refinery and then sells on the Romanian market via a distribution network of more than 300 gas stations.

Petrotel Lukoil and Lukoil Romania were two of the largest ten companies in Romania by turnover last year. Petrotel Lukoil had sales of EUR 1.25 billion, while Lukoil Romania, which operates the distribution network, had sales of EUR 1.13 billion. The two companies had cumulated losses of EUR 220 million and more than 3,500 employees.

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