BP and Shell HQs Raided by European Commission on Oil Price Fixing Suspicion
Two of Britain’s biggest oil companies’ London headquarters were raided by EU investigators yesterday, over allegations that customers have been ripped off at the petrol pump for years.
The officers from the European Commission’s competition authority searched BP and Shell’s offices, to look for evidence of price rigging.
In the wake of the Libor interest rate manipulation scandals, the EC has launched an investigation on what could be the next price fixing scandal by these big oil companies conspiring to inflate oil prices and, in turn, the cost of petrol.
The Commission stated that the anti-competitive co-operation may also have prevented others from taking part in the assessment of market prices.
Even small difference in prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil and oil products such as petrol, potentially harming final consumers.
The Commission’s statement did not identify the companies involved, saying the inspections had taken place in two EU member states and one non-EU country.
Shell spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Shell companies are currently assisting the European Commission in an enquiry into trading activities. We are fully cooperating with the investigation.”
A BP statement also confirmed the company was “cooperating fully” with the probe.
According to the EC statement “Any such behavior, if established, may amount to violations of European antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and abuses of a dominant market position (Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement).”
If the firms are found guilty of manipulating the market, it would mean consumers have been paying unfairly inflated price for oil, for years.