Polish anti-monopoly authority, Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), announced Wednesday its penalty of over 29 billion Polish Zloty ($7.6 billion) imposed on Gazprom for its lack of approval on a transaction for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The authority also fined five other companies over 234 million Zloty ($61.4 million) who participated in the construction of the gas pipeline.
The authority noted that "charges against six economic operators were pressed in this particular case two years ago" which included Gazprom, Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall.
In 2015, UOKiK received an application filed by the six companies for approval to create a joint venture responsible for the construction and operation of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
However in 2016, the president of UOKiK voiced concerns and reservations over the merger scheme, noting the planned transaction could lead to a restriction in competition.
"The companies withdrew their application, which in practice meant that they were prohibited from performing the merger. Meanwhile, shortly thereafter, information surfaced that the would-be parties to the transaction had signed an agreement for the financing of the gas pipeline," it said.
"The unprecedented decision and the imposition of the maximum penalty are the outcome of the proceedings UOKiK has concluded with regard to a company that is responsible for constructing and operating Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline without the required consent of the President of UOKiK," the statement read.
Therefore, proceedings against Gazprom and its five trading partners regarding the execution of the transaction without obtaining approval from the authority were initiated, according to the statement.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 1,200-kilometer long joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and five European companies, is set to double the current annual 55 billion cubic meter capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline.
Countries along the construction route, including Germany, Finland and Sweden, have already granted permits, and Denmark, which originally expressed opposition to the project, agreed to a permit last year.
By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu