Major German automakers have admitted to anti-trust regulators that they have been cooperating since the 1990’s in a manner that potentially violated antitrust rules, discussing costs, suppliers and technology, according to report by the website of the German magazine, Der Spiegel. The revelations could signal the beginning of one of the biggest cartel cases in German history.
The report comes on the heels of Handelsblatt’s own investigation showing that the European Union’s competition watchdog is examining whether German automakers worked together to harmonize systems used to rid diesel exhaust of harmful pollutants. The potential antitrust violations come at a time when German carmakers already on the defensive as international investigations into emissions cheating progress.
All major German carmakers were involved in potentially illicit cooperation – Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-maker Daimler, according to Der Spiegel, which cited confessions VW and Daimler filed with antitrust regulators. More than 200 employees are said to have been involved.
The German carmakers declined to comment to the magazine. Politicians, however, are clearly watching closely.