Car manufacturers among six companies being investigated by German authorities over steel-buying practices

The offices of Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes have been raided amid an investigation by German authorities into the steel-buying practices of a total of six companies.

The raids took place in June after concerns were raised that the three car manufacturers are in violation of Germany's antitrust rules. A spokesman for the Federal Cartel Office (FCO), Kay Weidner, said the raids had taken place to establish the facts, but did not identify the companies involved.

Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes, as well as Robert Bosch GmbH and ZF Friedrichshafen AG confirmed they were raided as part of the investigation, and that they are co-operating with authorities.

The FCO is able to fine companies it finds to be in violation of antitrust rules up to 10 percent of annual sales, although rarely levies penalties that high. The European auto industry has been the subject of a number of price-fixing probes in recent years.

According to the World Steel Association, the average car contains nearly 2,000 pounds of steel.


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