No for­mal in­quiry against VW ex-CEO: Ger­many

Swe­den may send VW tax bill for pol­lu­tion

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors said Thurs­day that they had not launched a for­mal in­quiry against Martin Win­terkorn, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of auto gi­ant Volk­swa­gen, con­trary to what they orig­i­nally stated this week.

An of­fi­cial press state­ment re­leased on Mon­day by public pros­e­cu­tors in Brunswick was “for­mu­lated in­cor­rectly,” a spokesman told AFP.

No spe­cific in­di­vid­u­als are tar­geted so far in the pros­e­cu­tors’ in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mas­sive pol­lu­tion-cheat­ing scan­dal. Com­plaints had been filed by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als against Win­terkorn, but only ini­tial sus­pi­cions were be­ing probed and there was no for­mal in­quiry as yet, the spokesman ex­plained.

The orig­i­nal state­ment on the pros­e­cu­tors’ web­site had been amended to say that “in con­nec­tion with the al­le­ga­tions of emis­sion ma­nip­u­la­tion in diesel

Swe­den may send a tax bill to Ger­man au­tomaker Volk­swa­gen for un­de­clared pol­lu­tion of its diesel ve­hi­cles af­ter it ad­mit­ted fit­ting some 11 mil­lion with pol­lu­tion-cheat­ing de­vices, the fi­nance min­is­ter said Thurs­day.

Cars sold in the Nordic coun­try have a tax as­sessed depend­ing on the amount of pol­lu­tion they emit.

“If it is proved that the emis­sions were higher than they said then it is pos­si­ble that cer­tain cars were taxed too lit­tle,” Fi­nance ve­hi­cles of the VW brand ... pros­e­cu­tors are ex­am­in­ing whether to launch an in­quiry against those em­ploy­ees re­spon­si­ble at Volk­swa­gen AG.”

But the state­ment no longer named Win­terkorn di­rectly.

The pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice sub­se­quently is­sued an apol­ogy for any Min­is­ter Mag­dalena An­der­s­son said on SR public ra­dio.

She said Volk­swa­gen has been asked for in­for­ma­tion to help cal­cu­late how much the Swedish state may have lost in tax rev­enue.

Volk­swa­gen said ear­lier this week it had sold 225,000 ve­hi­cles in Swe­den fit­ted with de­vices that switch on pol­lu­tion con­trols when they de­tect the car is un­der­go­ing test­ing and then switch off the con­trols when the car is on the road, al­low­ing it to spew out “con­fu­sion” the er­ror had caused.

The misun­der­stand­ing had arisen be­cause a case dossier must be opened when­ever a com­plaint is filed against an in­di­vid­ual. But the case dossier does not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a pre­lim­i­nary probe and a for­mal in­quiry, where there are con­crete grounds to be­lieve the harm­ful lev­els of emis­sions.

Volk­swa­gen Swe­den’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Claes Jerve­land, told the TT news agency that the com­pany would look into the mat­ter, not­ing that so far con­cerns had been about the mo­tors emit­ting higher lev­els of ni­tro­gen ox­ides rather than car­bon diox­ide, upon which the Swedish tax is based.

The tax is paid by car buy­ers, so the Swedish tax au­thor­ity may have some le­gal hur­dles to clear be­fore send­ing any bill to Volk­swa­gen. ini­tial sus­pi­cions, the pros­e­cu­tors ex­plained. “No such in­quiry has been opened against Win­terkorn,” they in­sisted.

Win­terkorn, 68, re­signed last week, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the scan­dal as CEO, but still in­sist­ing that he per­son­ally knew noth­ing about the de­cep­tion.

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