Prosecutors Expand VW Emissions Investigation

By Ewing, Jack | International New York Times, March 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

Prosecutors Expand VW Emissions Investigation


Ewing, Jack, International New York Times


German prosecutors said that they had widened the inquiry into illegal manipulation of tailpipe emissions and that they had not ruled out involvement by top management.

German prosecutors said on Tuesday that they had expanded their investigation into the illegal manipulation of tailpipe emissions by Volkswagen, raising the number of suspects to 17 from six.

In line with German privacy rules, none of the suspects' names were disclosed.

So far, no suspects are current or former members of the company's management board, said Klaus Ziehe, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office in Braunschweig, a city near Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg.

But Mr. Ziehe said that the investigation was continuing, and that prosecutors had not ruled out involvement by top management. "We are looking at all levels, including the management board level," he said.

Mr. Ziehe declined to say what kinds of jobs the suspects held or where in the company they worked.

Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a second development, French prosecutors have opened a formal fraud investigation into the Volkswagen diesel cheating, following a preliminary inquiry that began in October. The head of the French anti-fraud authority said Monday that a preliminary investigation had found that Volkswagen's fraud was "intentional."

In the German investigation, the increasing number of suspects, none of whom have been formally charged, raises the stakes for Volkswagen as the company takes a more aggressive stance against accusations that knowledge of the wrongdoing was widespread in the company.

In a court filing last week, Volkswagen said that, until last summer, no members of its management board were aware that software in 11 million diesel vehicles had been programmed to cheat on emissions tests. The filing portrayed the software manipulation as the work of "individual employees" whose activities could not be detected by outsiders.

"The management board of Volkswagen had no knowledge either of the programming of the impermissible software nor of its later use in affected diesel motors," the company said in a document filed on Feb. …

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