According to Reuters, EU antitrust regulators have raided several bioethanol companies suspected of fixing prices and at the same time stepped up their two-year investigation into possible rigging of biofuel price benchmarks by including a company in Spain in the case.
The European Commission did not provide details on the raids or name the companies.
“The (bioethanol) investigation should clarify the facts concerning the possible participation by producers or traders of bioethanol in agreements or concerted practices aimed at fixing prices or sharing markets and customers,” the EU executive said.
“In a separate investigation, the Commission also carried out an unannounced inspection in Spain at the premises of a company active in the production, distribution and trading of ethanol, a biofuel,” it said.
This second case followed two previous sets of raids in 2013 and 2014.
Last March an Abengoa SA unit and Tereos SA were among the sites inspected by European Commission investigators.
The surprise visits add pressure on the ethanol industry after an earlier round of raids last year targeted Swedish producer Lantmaennen Agroetanol AB and Alcogroup’s Alcodis unit. The probe was first made public in May 2013 after EU officials inspected oil-price publisher Platts, BP Plc, Statoil ASA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Argos Energies. All of the companies denied violations of antitrust rules.