Kay Weidner, a spokesman for the investigative body, would not name any of the firms under investigation, although those listed have since self-identified and agreed to co-operate with investigators. A sixth company being investigated has chosen to keep its identity private.
The industry giants are currently under investigation, having had their offices raided by the German authority at the end of June, according to reports. The German antitrust regulator is probing the firms in order to investigate whether a cartel fixing the price of steel used to make car components was formed.
Reports suggest that the cartel may have been formed in order to keep the price of steel low and that the investigations could last anywhere from a few months to several years.
Fines of up to 10% of a guilty party’s annual turnover can be imposed by the authority, although it’s rare that fines ever approach the upper limit. Previous investigations have been carried out in relation to the prices of parts; it’s less common that investigations probe the price fixing of raw materials.
Volkswagen released the following statement regarding the investigations: “We confirm that representatives of the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) searched offices in Wolfsburg as part of an ongoing investigation. Volkswagen is supporting the authorities with their investigation. However, given that the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
A spokesman from Daimler has confirmed that no official statement is likely to be released by Mercedes-Benz, and at the time of writing, a spokesman from BMW was unavailable.