King Mohammed VI Orders Probe on Sanctions Against Hydrocarbon Companies

Here follows a statement by the Royal Office:

“HM the King received on Thursday July 23, 2020 a note from the President of the Competition Council relating to the Council’s decision on possible agreements between the oil companies and the Petroleum Grouping of Morocco. In this note, the President brings to the Very High Attention of HM the King, the content of the decision adopted by the plenary on Wednesday July 22 by 12 votes for and 1 vote against to impose a financial sanction amounting to 9% of the annual turnover achieved in Morocco for the 3 leading distributors and a lower amount for other companies.

HM the King received, this Tuesday, July 28, 2020, a second note from the same President of the Competition Council on the same subject and in which the person concerned informed HM the King of the amount of the sanctions imposed on the distributors, during the plenary on July 27. This time, the amount is set at 8% of annual turnover without distinction between companies and without any indication of the distribution of votes.

In addition, the Sovereign also received on July 28, 2020, a note from several members of the Council in which they said that “the management of this issue was characterized by procedural infringements on the part of the president which damage the quality and impartiality of the decision taken by the Council. In this regard, the signatories raise the following complaints:

– Communication harmful to the examination of the case and to the credibility of the Council;

– Forced passage to the vote before the debate is closed;

– Shortened interpretation and violation of article 39 of the law on freedom of prices and competition;

– Opacity of the investigation procedure, marked by a selective sharing of documents;

– Failure to satisfy members’ requests for a balanced review of the arguments put forward by the companies;

– Behavior of the president which suggests that he is acting on instructions or according to a personal agenda.

In view of the foregoing and given the confusion surrounding this issue and the contradictory versions presented, HM the King, firmly attached to the independence and credibility of the institutions and guarantor of their good functioning, decided to set up an ad-hoc commission in charge of carrying out the necessary investigations to clarify the situation and to submit to His High Attention a detailed report on the subject as soon as possible.

The Sovereign appointed as members of the said commission the following senior officials:

– The 2 speakers of the houses of Parliament;

– The president of the Constitutional Court;

– The president of the Court of Auditors;

– The governor of Bank Al Maghrib;

– The president of the Authority for probity, prevention and the fight against corruption.

The coordination mission will be carried out by the Secretary General of the Government”.

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