The United Group (UG) companies United Media and SBB filed charges against Telekom Serbia d.o.o. and Telenor d.o.o. Belgrade and the responsible managers to ensure the protection of their interests before the respective prosecutor's office, bearing in mind, it did not launch an ex officio procedure despite enough material evidence about a restrictive contract that would divide the market, UG's statement said on Friday.
It added that „it’s obvious that by a synchronised attack on the United Group by statements and accusations, Telekom and Telenor believe that, contrary to the current laws, the injured parties must not file criminal charges.“
UG believes that the details of the charges filed to the respective prosecutor’s office can only help it determine all facts in the criminal procedure that it is in Serbia’s people interest.
Zdenko Tomanovic, UG’s lawyer, told N1 later on Friday that in the accompanying documents of the agreement on cooperation between Telecom and Telenor, there was plenty of evidence that the deal aimed at dividing the market and that it was an association to destroy competition.
„If it follows from the documents that have reached the public, and I quote: „That business cooperation enables us to push SBB out of the market and complete domination over the United Group… And if the accompanying document issued by the then coordinator, and the current Telekom’s CEO says, and I quote: „The partnership with Telenor means the destruction of SBB and makes Telekom Srbija the only supplier of media content,“ there are doubts the the crime of concluding a restrictive agreement has been committed, because of the market division,“ Tomanovic said.
„The mere existence of the crime in concluding the restrictive agreement defined by Article 229 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code shows that Serbia has committed itself to respect the European law since it incorporated its regulations. Even basic documents which regulate the European Union functioning stipulate that every decision, agreement or concerted practice that may affect or aim to prevent, restrict or circumvent competition, is prohibited,“ UG said.
It added that both the international and Serbia’s laws did not allow restrictive verbal agreements or formal contracts between the market participants.
The Group recalls that Telekom’s documents set as its aim to „put an end to the United Media and SBB operations in Serbia… total collapse, pushing them out of the market and finally destroying SBB… preventing the financing of the United Group’s media.“
Those documents clearly speak about Telekom and Telenor’s strategic plan of coordinated performance to suppress the third party. That is why SBB and United Media have a legitimate right to file criminal charges, which they have done, the statement said.
It added that „all accusations by Telekom and Telenor are absurd because they certainly cannot decide when criminal charges will be filed, much less judge in advance whether it is founded or not. They certainly cannot assess whether the report is a violation of the law or pressure on institutions. “
„We hope that in Serbia today, the country’s laws and respective courts and prosecutors’ offices should determine who is an injured party, which legal rights it has in filing criminal charges, not Telekom and Telenor,“ the statement said.
N1 operates within United Media, which is a part of the United Group.