October 10, 2016 / 11:56 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Bulgaria watchdog accuses six oil firms of price-fixing

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SOFIA, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's anti-monopoly commission on Monday accused six oil companies operating on its retail fuel market of involvement in cartel agreements on fuel prices.

The commission said Lukoil Bulgaria, part of LUKOIL , Shell Bulgaria, part of Royal Dutch Shell, OMV, Eko Bulgaria, a unit of Hellenic Petroleum , Petrol and Nis Petrol, which is controlled by Russia's Gazprom Neft had collaborated to fix retail prices of diesel and gasoline.

"The Commission considers that the actions of the above-mentioned companies constitute a violation, resulting in a prohibited agreement and or concerted practice to exchange price information and conduct a common pricing policy as well as exchanging information on sales," the commission said in a statement.

The commission began investigating fuel retailers in February after many Bulgarians complained of high fuel costs despite a plunge in global oil prices

A spokeswoman for Lukoil Bulgaria declined comment, saying the company needs time to see the commission's findings.

The other five companies were not immediately available for comment. They denied any involvement in price-fixing when the commission launched its inquiry.

The companies will have 30 days to comment on the findings of the commission.

The initial inquiry included Rompetrol, which is not on the current list of fuel retailers the commission says are part of the cartel.

In April, the watchdog raided the offices of OMV, Lukoil Bulgaria, Royal Dutch, Rompetrol and Hellenic Petroleum. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Tsvetelia Tsolova/Ruth Pitchford)

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