EU auto cartel probe widens to VW and Daimler searches

Rebecca Smith
VW said it was cooperating fully
VW said it was cooperating fully (Source: Getty)

European Union antitrust officials expanded an investigation of an auto cartel probe today, inspecting both Volkswagen and Daimler headquarters.

The European Commission confirmed it had carried out "inspections at the premises of car manufacturers in Germany" to compile evidence relating to concerns that several manufacturers may have violated EU antitrust rules that "prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices".

The inspections followed one on BMW headquarters last week.

Read more: German car giants' shares slide on news of EU cartel probe

The Commission said such inspections were a preliminary step in investigations of anti-competitive practices, and "does not mean that the inspected companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself".

In a statement, Volkswagen said it was not yet clear whether the Commission will instigate formal proceedings, but said it was cooperating fully.

It said:

We confirm that the current antitrust investigations by the EU Commission, which the press have reported on over the past few days, are also directed at Volkswagen.

As part of an announced review, the EU Commission examined documents in the offices of Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg (and Audi AG in Ingolstadt). The Volkswagen group and the group brands concerned have been cooperating fully and for a long time with the European Commission and have submitted a corresponding application.

In July, EU antitrust officials confirmed that they had started investigating allegations of a cartel among a group of German carmakers.

Read more: Probes by EU authorities into illegal cartels and price fixing triple

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