BMW’s headquarters were raided by European Union authorities examining a supposed cartel amongst German carmakers, it said on Friday, as competitor Daimler claimed whistleblower status in an effort to prevent fines.
EU staff had carried out an investigation at BMW’s Munich offices, the premium automaker stated, adding that it is helping “the European Commission in its work”.
The EU’s Brussels executive stated its antitrust authorities had swooped unannounced on “a carmaker in Germany” on Monday October 16 in the first confirmed raid related to accusations that numerous German automakers had engaged in an unlawful cartel.
The rivalry watchdog said in July that it was investigating collusion among German automakers in reaction 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 years.
“The BMW Group wants to make clear the difference between potential violations of antitrust law on the one hand and prohibited manipulation of exhaust gas treatment on the other,” the company stated. “The BMW Group has not been alleged of the latter.”
Brussels has yet to start formal antitrust proceedings against any of the automakers.
However, the accusations have started to spawn U.S. lawsuits, contributing to stress on a market already fighting with the reputational fallout from extensive diesel emissions-test manipulation revealed in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.
Daimler stated on Friday that it had submitted an application for immunity from fines with the European Commission some time ago, efficiently claiming to have blown the whistle on what Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber referred as “possible antitrust agreements” with competing makers.
Daimler sees no need to reserve any funds for possible antitrust fines, Uebber included.