Bulgarian prosecutors to investigate oil firms’ excise database complaint

Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on October 15 that it would investigate a complaint lodged by an oil and gas industry association, which claimed that the centralised excise duties database of the Customs Agency was effectively inoperative.

The association claimed that the software could not deal with the large amount of data and failed in its main goal, namely automatically comparing the readings from meters installed on all fuel storage facilities to the amounts declared by the companies operating the facilities.

Instead, that data checks were being carried out “manually and selectively” by the customs officials. The association claimed that some data was never recorded and said it suspected some data was intentionally deleted in order to “cover up the illegal activities of business operators”.

The complaint asked prosecutors to investigate to what extent the Customs Agency collects excise duties on fuels in Bulgaria, whether all companies on the market have complied with regulations and which operators were benefiting from “manual” data checks, as well to ascertain why the excise software was still not linked to the National Revenue Agency’s systems.

Bulgarias Customs Agency has moved, in recent years, to cut down on excise duty avoidance by installing automated meters on all fuel storage and processing facilities in the country. This has led to open confrontation between the agency and the local subsidiary of Russian oil company Lukoil, which owns Bulgaria’s sole oil refinery and is the largest fuel wholesaler in the country.

The complaint to prosecutors was signed by the head of the Bulgarian Oil and Gas Association, Valentin Zlatev, who is also the executive director of Lukoil Bulgaria. The association also includes several other major retailers, including the local subsidiaries of Shell, OMV and Rompetrol.



The Sofia Globe staff

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