A UK newspaper reports claims that insurance brokers are 'in fear' of an EU-led probe into their businesses which could mirror the far-reaching Spitzer inquiry in the US.

The Times newspaper reports that the European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes – already the scourge of Microsoft and several dozen energy companies – has sent a detailed questionnaire to a number of European insurance brokers demanding a breakdown of their revenue streams.

The New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer sent shockwaves through the US insurance sector two years ago when he opened a long-running investigation into market manipulation, which centered on insurers illegally favoring brokers that paid the highest commission.

The newspaper claims that Ms Kroes already fears competition in the brokerage sector is not as transparent as it could be.