Raid on BMW hub
Munich: BMW's headquarters were raided by EU officials investigating an alleged cartel among German carmakers, it said on Friday, as rival Daimler claimed whistleblower status in an effort to avoid fines.
EU staff had "conducted an inspection" at BMW's Munich offices this week, the premium carmaker said in a statement, adding that it is "assisting the European Commission in its work".
The EU's Brussels executive said its anti-trust officials had swooped unannounced on "a carmaker in Germany" on October 16 in the first confirmed raid related to allegations that several German automakers had engaged in an illegal cartel.
The competition watchdog said in July that it was investigating collusion among German carmakers in response to a tip-off after Der Spiegel magazine reported that Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche arms conspired to fix prices in diesel and other technologies over decades.
"The BMW Group wishes to make clear the distinction between potential violations of anti-trust law on the one hand and illegal manipulation of exhaust gas treatment on the other," the company said. "The BMW Group has not been accused of the latter."
Brussels has yet to initiate formal anti-trust proceedings against any of the carmakers.
However, the allegations have begun to spawn US lawsuits, adding to strains on an industry already struggling with the reputational fallout from widespread diesel emissions-test manipulation exposed in the wake of VW's dieselgate scandal.