Drivers go to BMW cars before they start driving in circles on a temporary race track on the second media day of the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

INTERNATIONAL - Luxury German carmaker BMW has confirmed that European competition officials searched its headquarters in Munich last week as part of a probe into a cartel operated by Germany’s top car groups since the 1990s. 

The European Commission said on Friday that anti-trust officials had “carried out an unannounced inspection at the premises of a car manufacturer in Germany.” 

The statement did not identify the company. The commission’s action followed German media reports in July that BMW along with Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Daimler had been members of a secret cartel since the 1990s that discussed emission controls and standards. 

The revelations about the cartel came as the German car industry attempted to restore public trust after VW admitted just over two years ago to cheating on diesel emissions tests around the world. “The inspection is related to the concerns that several German car manufacturers may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the commission’s statement said.