EU's Almunia says Gazprom antitrust proposal due this week

PARIS Mon Dec 9, 2013 5:20am EST

The company logo of Russian natural gas producer Gazprom is seen on an advertisement installed on the roof of a building in St. Petersburg, November 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

The company logo of Russian natural gas producer Gazprom is seen on an advertisement installed on the roof of a building in St. Petersburg, November 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

PARIS (Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has promised to present proposals this week to end a year-long investigation into its business practices and avert a possible fine of as much as $14.3 billion, the EU's antitrust chief said on Monday.

The European Commission last year told Gazprom that it may have impeded the free flow of gas in central and eastern Europe, blocked rival suppliers and over-charged customers by linking the price of its gas to oil.

The EU competition watchdog earlier this year threatened to send formal charges to Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas consumption needs.

Bowing to EU pressure, Gazprom's deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev told EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia last week that the company was willing to settle the case.

"He promised the proposal will be sent to my office this week," Almunia told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organized by Premier Cercle in Paris.

The Commission is expected to seek feedback from third parties before deciding whether to accept Gazprom's offer.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Martin Santa and Keiron Henderson)

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