The Slovenia Times

Petrol's Russia memorandum debated in parliament


Petrol signed the memorandum on cooperation in the field of energy efficiency with T Plus Grupa, part of the Russian Renova Group, which is subject to US sanctions along with its owner Viktor Felixovich Vekselberg.

"The sanctions were valid at the time when the memorandum was signed," said Zvonko Černač, an MP for the Democratic Party (SDS), which tabled the motion of for today's session.

Considering that the information about the sanctions is public, Černač wondered why those responsible failed to notify Petrol. "Our intelligence and security agency hasn't done its job properly either."

Černač argued that Petrol was exposed to potential retaliation measures, which could impact on lower dividend payouts affecting the budget and difficulties for Petrol doing business and expansion.

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Matej Marn noted that the mentioned Russian companies and their owner were not subject to EU sanctions, so there were no legal obstacles in the bloc to doing business with them.

The ministry had drawn Petrol's attention to the US sanctions, but Marn said that the ministry could not influence business decisions of companies.

The comment upset commission chair Anže Logar (SDS). "The memorandum between Petrol and the Russian company was signed during the official visit of the prime minister and ministers to Moscow. It confounds logic that the prime minister supports cooperation with blacklisted companies," he said.

"The prime minister knew he was legitimising the signing of an agreement with a blacklisted company. It's good he is leaving," Černač said.

Petrol CEO Nada Drobne Popović said that no transaction had taken place under the memorandum, but that the management would examine the potential impact of the signing on the company's operations.

"We will take a decision for the benefit of Petrol," she said, while she said she could not comment on the details of the signing because the memorandum was signed under the previous management.

In press release posted on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, Petrol said that it had screened T Plus and its shareholders before signing the memorandum, establishing that "none of them were included in a Slovenian or a European sanctions list."

"The parties agreed to examine the possibilities for mutual business cooperation to optimise heat distribution systems owned or managed by PJSC T Plus. No concrete transactions or contracts to carry out a transaction took place," Petrol said.

Nevertheless, the commission, controlled by the opposition to the outgoing government, decided to call on those responsible to withdraw their signatures from the memorandum.

They called on the government to task Slovenian Sovereign Holding, which manages the state's stake in Petrol, to draw up a report on the matter.

The commission also wants the Office for Money Laundering Prevention and the National Bureau of Investigation to report on potential dereliction of duty, money laundering and terrorism financing.


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