The European Commission carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of various providers of international freight forwarding on 10th October.
It said it had reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EC Treaty rules that outlaw restrictive business practices (Article 81). The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities. Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels.
The Commission said that the fact that it had carried out such inspections did not mean that the companies were guilty of anti-competitive behaviour; nor did it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
“The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings. There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate and the exercise of the rights of defence,” it said.
Kuehne + Nagel said the inspection encompassed among others Kuehne + Nagel in Switzerland, in the USA, and in the UK. The investigation relates to alleged anti-competitive activities in the area of international freight forwarding.
In a statement, it said: “Currently, Kuehne + Nagel sees no reason to suspect any such violations and considers the inspection excessive. The company views any form of competition violation very seriously and ensures full cooperation with all involved authorities in this matter.”