Gazprom says Chechen gas debt write-off illegal

Gazprom says Chechen gas debt write-off illegal

A recent decision of a Chechen court made on request from the Prosecutor’s Office to write off 9.4 billion rubles of local household gas debts contradicts existing legislation, Gazprom Deputy CEO Valery Golubev said.

"The decision made by the court of the first instance contradicts existing provisions of law. The period of limitation can be terminated or suspended if a debtor acknowledges the debt. The court did not consider real expiration of the period of limitation," Golubev said.

"Moreover, acknowledging debts as collectible or uncollectible does not terminate liabilities, and does not block the possibility to file claims demanding redemption of the debt," Prime cited him as saying.

"The court did not ask for and the company did not provide data, which could help it acknowledge the debt as uncollectible. At the same time the current law says that the prosecutor’s office does not interfere into companies’ operations," Gazprom Deputy CEO added.

The write-off will eliminate many years of Gazprom’s efforts to improve payment discipline in the Northern Caucasus, while non-payments and violations of law of gas consumption lead to dilapidation and unreliability of gas pipelines in the region. "An immaculate payment discipline is one of the factors that ensure safety of the gas industry," he said, adding that good payers will see the decision as unfair.

Gazprom Mezhregiongaz, a Gazprom’s regional arm, said in a statement that the combined debt of the Chechen Republic’s households amounted to 13.2 billion rubles as of December 1, 2018, including the 9.353 billion rubles of debts accrued from January 1, 2017 through September 30, 2015 that the court wrote off.

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