ThyssenKrupp offices raided in German auto steel suppliers probe

ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, said an antitrust watchdog in the country raided its offices in the western city of Duisburg.

ThyssenKrupp doesn’t tolerate antitrust violations and will support the Federal Cartel Office’s investigation of steel supplies to the automotive industry, the Essen, Germany-based company said in a statement on its Web site.

The regulator raided four offices of three companies as well as apartments in the probe of suspected illegal deals between suppliers of semi-finished products and strip steel, the Federal Cartel Office said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.

ThyssenKrupp last year ousted three board members to repair a boardroom tainted by corruption allegations and an ill-fated expansion in the Americas. Yesterday’s raids add to the company’s involvement in an elevator cartel and a suit for damages by Germany’s state-owned railway operator over alleged fixing of prices for rails by ThyssenKrupp and two peers.

“We are in the process of implementing a full-scale change to the leadership culture at ThyssenKrupp,” CEO Heinrich Hiesinger said in his company’s statement. “I take this very seriously. Anyone who doesn’t cooperate has no business working for us.”

Police supported 19 officials from the watchdog in raids across three German states, according to the statement from the Bonn-based regulator, which didn’t identify the companies involved. While the raids are based on the suspicion of antitrust law violations, they serve to gather information and don’t mean the affected companies or people involved have engaged in wrongdoing, according to the regulator’s statement.

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