Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said on June 28 that it has fined Pharmnet, which owns a number of pharmacies and is controlled by relatives of MP Vesselin Mareshki, 495 000 leva (about 253 100 euro), or 0.1 per cent of its net revenue for 2016, for unfair practices.
CPC said that its probe was initiated at the request of prosecutors, who forwarded the findings of an investigation that found “sufficient suspicion” that Pharmnet and three of its senior managers, including Mareshki himself, engaged in unfair trading practices.
Prosecutors had to suspend their investigation after Mareshki and the other two, Plamen Hristov and Krastina Taskova, were elected to Parliament on the ticket of Mareshki’s Volya party. Last week, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has submitted a formal request to the National Assembly, asking it to lift the immunity from prosecution of the three MPs from Volya.
The watchdog said that it found sufficient evidence that Pharmnet engaged in unfair trade practices, but said that Mareshki, Hristov and Taskova did not bear additional personal responsibility.
Two of CPC’s members signed a dissenting opinion, arguing that the regulator’s decision was based on “contradictory, incomplete and insufficient” reasoning that did not definitively prove that Pharmnet engaged in unfair practices. The two commissioners objected to the fact that the regulator did not carry out its own fact-finding investigation to verify the claims and evidence forwarded by prosecutors.
Additionally, the dissenting opinion argued that prosecutors were not have the power to ask for an investigation in these circumstances and the regulator should not have taken on the case.
The fine can be appealed within a period of 14 days at the Supreme Administrative Court, the regulator said.
(Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki)