LONDON (ICIS)--The European Commission has carried out unannounced inspections on companies in the styrene monomer purchasing sector on suspicion they may have breached EU antitrust regulations, it said on Friday.
"The Commission has concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices," the EU's executive body said in a statement.
The inspections took place on 5 June in several member states with officials accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
"Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected anti-competitive practices," the Commission said.
"The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does 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."
European styrene market participants were watching the news from Brussels on Friday.
Styrene players are waiting to see what any potential impact there could be if the Commission finds the markets have been manipulated.
The Commission did not name any of the companies involved.
"There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct," it said.
"Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence."
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