The Spanish government’s anti-trust authority, the National Competition Commission (CNC), is investigating a number of automotive dealers and distributors across the country that are suspected of being involved in the price fixing of vehicles and services, as well as the exchange of commercially sensitive information.

The organisation, which carried out a number of dawn raids in the first week of June on the head offices of several companies operating in the car distribution business, said it could not reveal the companies involved until the case was formally opened, which usually take between two and three months after the initial action. It is likely to be August or September before the companies being investigated are named. An assessment of the information gathered is now being made. Should evidence be found of such practices formal proceedings will start under Article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act 15/2007 and could result in the companies involved being fined up to 10% of their total turnover. However, the CNC was keen to stress that the inspections were a preliminary step and did not automatically imply the guilt of the companies involved.

Cartels are a priority target for the CNC but it said that members of any cartel that supply evidence of its existence would qualify for an exemption or reduction in their fine.

Spain’s Federation of Automotive Dealers (FaconAuto), which represents around 2,650 dealers, offered no comment on the action.

While the carmakers are also remaining reticent because the investigation is ongoing, Volkswagen, which owns Spanish brand Seat, acknowledged that it was aware that the CNC had started an investigation into some automotive dealers because of possible unlawful behaviour.