On 7 November 2019, the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection ("UOKiK") imposed a PLN 172 million (EUR 40 million) fine on Engie Energy Management Holding Switzerland AG ("Company") for not providing requested information.
The fine was imposed due to the lack of response to requests for information that UOKiK sent to the Company in relation to the investigation that UOKiK initiated on 30 April 2018 regarding an alleged breach of Polish merger control rules that consisted of six companies allegedly establishing, without UOKiK’s clearance, a joint venture company financing the implementation of Nord Stream 2 ("Transaction").
The requests for information sent to the Company on 28 November 2018 and 8 January 2019 concerned various types of gas fuel agreements that companies belonging to Engie Group have concluded with Gazprom Export LLC (e.g. transmission, distribution, sales, supply, or storage agreements).
The Company refused to provide such information arguing that UOKiK’s requests for information did not specify their purpose and that the gas fuel agreements do not concern the subject matter of the investigation of the alleged Transaction that UOKiK undertakes.
In such a situation, UOKiK could impose a fine of up to EUR 50 million. In considering the amount of the fine, UOKiK takes into account the circumstances of the infringement, aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and also the fact that the fine should have preventive, repressive and disciplinary functions.
In its decision, UOKiK argues that the Company intentionally refused to provide the requested information and that the refusal had a negative effect on the course and completion date of UOKiK’s ongoing investigation. In particular, UOKiK argues that the requested information is necessary for assessing the market effects of the alleged Transaction as it concerned the natural gas market, which the alleged Transaction may have affected. UOKiK also emphasized the significance of sanctions that may be imposed in its ongoing investigations.
The Company confirmed its plan to appeal against the decision.
The decision no. DKK-217/2019 is available in Polish at UOKiK’s website.