Bulgarian left-wing MP Rumen Petkov has rejected allegations that Lukoil participates in smuggling schemes.
In a Sunday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), the socialist MP and former Interior Minister in the Socialist-led three-way coalition government in 2005-2008, opposed claims of Customs Agency head Vanyo Tanov that inspectors would set foot in Lukoil for the first time, adding that Tanov had "a habit of lying".
Petkov said accusations that Lukoil was the main source of smuggling were "irresponsible" and reminded that in 2007 Lukoil had made a substantial donation to Bulgaria's unit for combating organized crime( GDBOP) in reward for the excellent work of the body in the fight against fuel smuggling.
The left-wing MP estimated losses incurred to the state budget from cigarette smuggling at no less than BGN 800 M and stressed that this could not take place without the participation of the Customs Agency and the Interior Ministry.
Several days ago, Customs Agency Director Vanyo Tanov threatened to deprive the Lukoil Neftochim refinery of its license allowing it to function as a tax warehouse.
The warning was issued after the Burgas-based crude oil processing plant was found to have failed to install the obligatory measuring devices reporting fuel volumes released on the market.
Tanov also vowed to launch all-out inspections at the exit points of all fuel tax warehouses in the country and insisted that if "cheating the state" through fuel tax evasion were possible, it could only happen at Lukoil Neftochim, because the refinery had failed to comply with the new requirements.
The oil company responded by saying that a very large number of measuring devices had to be installed on the refinery's premises but that the 2011 investment program envisaged a solution to the problem.
The firm also said mobile customs units were welcome for inspections.