European Commission officials have searched the offices of gas companies in ten European states, including subsidiaries of Russian gas giant Gazprom.
"Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the supply, transmission and storage of natural gas in several member states," said the commission, which is vested with antitrust powers in the EU.
"The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have engaged in anticompetitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules or that they are in possession of information relating to such practices," a commission statement reads.
A spokesman for Gazprom Germania, the gas giant's German subsidiary, said European Commission officials conducted searches in the company's office in Berlin.
A German weekly business news magazine, Wirtschaftswoche, said the company was suspected of price collusion.
The premises of Vemex sro, a Gazprom group member in the Czech Republic, were also searched.
EC officials also searched the office of Lietuvos dujos, Lithuania's core gas supplier in which Russia's Gazprom owns over 37 percent, on suspicion of EU antimonopoly law violations, spokesperson Sigita Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene said on Wednesday.
"EC officials have searched the office of Lietuvos dujos," Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene told RIA Novosti without elaborating.
Russia's Energy Ministry hopes the European Commission will not infringe Gazprom's rights during checks on its European subsidiaries, energy ministry aide Dmitry Klokov said on Wednesday.
"The Russian party hopes that rights of the Russian investor and gas supplier will be respected during the check and relating procedures. The interests and rights are secured by current international agreements of protection and investment encouragement ... of cooperation in the energy sphere, on which long-term gas supplies to several European countries and gas transit are based," Klokov said.
Gazprom said it had not been informed about the checks but was ready to provide assistance.
"Gazprom is always open for dialogue with the authorities of EU members and EC, but the company has not been informed about any complaints, so it can not provide cooperation to solve all questions," the firm said in a statement.