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European Commission Raids Consultancy Firm in Tire Price-Fixing Probe

 |  June 18, 2024

The European Commission has launched unannounced inspections at the premises of a consultancy firm located in two EU Member States to look for potential tire price fixing. These inspections are part of an ongoing investigation into potential violations of EU antitrust rules, particularly those prohibiting cartels and restrictive business practices under Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The Commission suspects that the consultancy firm may have played a role in facilitating or instigating price coordination among tire manufacturers. This alleged collusion is believed to have occurred through public communication channels. Today’s actions follow earlier inspections conducted by the Commission in 2024, indicating a deepening investigation into these anticompetitive practices.

Officials from the European Commission were joined by national competition authorities from the respective Member States during the inspections. These unannounced visits are a preliminary step in investigating suspected anticompetitive behavior. It is important to note that such inspections do not imply guilt on the part of the companies involved, nor do they prejudge the outcome of the tire price-fixing investigation.

Read more: Four Japanese Insurers Penalize Officials Over Price-Fixing Scandal

The duration of antitrust inquiries can vary significantly, depending on factors such as case complexity, cooperation from the companies under investigation, and the exercise of defense rights. There is no fixed legal deadline for completing these inquiries.

The European Commission operates a leniency program aimed at uncovering secret cartels. Companies that have participated in such activities can receive immunity or significant reductions in fines if they report the conduct and cooperate fully with the Commission. The program also includes whistle-blower channels for anonymous reporting of cartel or other anticompetitive behaviors.

Source: EC Europa