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Kuria orders Nitrogenmuvek to pay HUF 11 billion cartel fine before appeals are exhausted

The Kuria, Hungary's supreme court, has decided that Nitrogenmuvek, the country's sole producer of artificial fertiliser, must pay an 11 billion forint (EUR 30m) Competition Office (GVH) fine before the company uses up its chances for legal recourse, GVH said on Friday.

Nitrogenmuvek had turned to the court regarding a request to suspend the payment until a final, legally binding decision is taken on the company’s challenge of the fine.

The Kuria said Nitrogenmuvek’s appeal could “last for years” and dismissed the company’s argument that paying the fine would “make its operation impossible”.

GVH said it instructed the tax authority to collect the fine, including a late payment penalty, “in the interest of protecting taxpayer money”.

GVH levied the fine on Nitrogenmuvek and a number of its group members in October, for cartel activity. It also fined Hogyeszi Agrokemiai and Cargill Magyarorszag, whom, it said, have already paid their fines.

Members of the cartel had set prices and divided up the market, while restricting imports, for years, GVH noted. It added that the illegal practices drove up farmers’ input prices and may have fed into consumer food prices.

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