The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

The Jus­tice Depart­ment sued Volk­swa­gen on Mon­day over emis­sions-cheating soft­ware found in nearly 600,000 ve­hi­cles sold in the U.S., po­ten­tially ex­pos­ing the com­pany to bil­lions of dol­lars in penal­ties for clean-air vi­o­la­tions.

The civil com­plaint against the Ger­man au­tomaker, filed on be­half of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Detroit, al­leges the com­pany il­le­gally in­stalled soft­ware de­signed to make its “clean diesel” en­gines pass fed­eral emis­sions stan­dards while un­der­go­ing lab­o­ra­tory test­ing. The ve­hi­cles then switched off those mea­sures in real-world driv­ing con­di­tions, spew­ing harm­ful gases at up to 40 times what is al­lowed by fed­eral reg­u­la­tions.

The com­pany is ne­go­ti­at­ing a mas­sive manda­tory re­call with U.S. reg­u­la­tors and po­ten­tially faces more than $18 bil­lion in fines for vi­o­la­tions of the Clean Air Act.

The com­pany and its ex­ec­u­tives also could still face sep­a­rate crim­i­nal charges, while a raft of pri­vate class-ac­tion law­suits filed by an­gry VW own­ers are pend­ing.

Volk­swa­gen Group of Amer­ica spokes­woman Jean­nine Gini­van said Mon­day that the com­pany “will con­tinue to co­op­er­ate with all gov­ern­ment agen­cies in­ves­ti­gat­ing th­ese mat­ters.”

Be­cause Volk­swa­gen kept its sus­pect soft­ware se­cret, the law­suit al­leges the com­pany’s cars were sold with­out a valid “cer­tifi­cate of con­form­ity” is­sued by EPA to reg­u­late new cars man­u­fac­tured or im­ported into the coun­try.


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