VW to pay $6.5 mil. fine over emis­sions cheat­ing

The Korea Times - - WORLD BUSINESS -

BERLIN (AFP) — Auto gi­ant Volk­swa­gen said Wed­nes­day it would pay a one bil­lion euro ($1.2 bil­lion) fine im­posed by Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors for diesel emis­sions cheat­ing.

“The Braun­schweig public pros­e­cu­tor is­sues an ad­min­is­tra­tive or­der against Volk­swa­gen AG in the con­text of the diesel cri­sis and im­poses a fine of EUR1 bil­lion on Volk­swa­gen AG,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

The Ger­man car gi­ant said it had “ac­cepted the fine” and would not lodge an ap­peal.

“Volk­swa­gen AG, by do­ing so, ad­mits its re­spon­si­bil­ity for the diesel cri­sis and con­sid­ers this as a fur­ther ma­jor step to­wards the lat­ter be­ing over­come.”

The pros­e­cu­tors said the penalty was “one of the high­est fines ever im­posed on a com­pany in Ger­many” and stressed that it was un­re­lated to civil cases seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion or on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions against the peo­ple in­volved.

The mam­moth car­maker ad­mit­ted in 2015 to fit­ting 11 mil­lion ve­hi­cles world­wide with “de­feat de­vices” — soft­ware de­signed to trick reg­u­la­tors into think­ing cars met emis­sions stan­dards.

In fact, out­put of harm­ful fine par­tic­u­lates and ni­tro­gen ox­ides (NOx), which can cause res­pi­ra­tory and heart dis­eases, was far higher than legally per­mit­ted.

VW’s ad­mis­sion had so far cost it more than 25 bil­lion eu­ros in buy­backs, fines and com­pen­sa­tion, and the com­pany re­mains mired in le­gal woes at home and abroad.

VW’s chief ex­ec­u­tive at the time of the diesel scan­dal Martin Win­terkorn stepped down soon af­ter the news broke, while suc­ces­sor Matthias Mueller was hastily re­placed ear­lier this year.

Both are sus­pected of know­ing ear­lier than they have so far ad­mit­ted about the cheat­ing, mean­ing they failed in their duty to in­form in­vestors in the car gi­ant about the fi­nan­cial risks.

U.S. pros­e­cu­tors also in­dicted Win­terkorn last month say­ing he knew of the com­pany’s emis­sions cheat­ing as early as May 2014 but de­cided to con­tinue. The “diesel­gate” saga has cast a pall over Ger­many’s vaunted car in­dus­try, with sus­pi­cions of emis­sions ma­nip­u­la­tion since spread­ing to other com­pa­nies.

Lux­ury car­maker BMW and Mercedes-owned Daim­ler have both had their of­fices raided by in­ves­ti­ga­tors search­ing for ev­i­dence of pos­si­ble cheat­ing.

In the spi­ralling scan­dal, Ger­many or­dered Mon­day the re­call of some 774,000 Daim­ler ve­hi­cles across Eu­rope, cit­ing il­le­gal de­feat de­vices.

VW said in its state­ment that pros­e­cu­tors had found that “mon­i­tor­ing du­ties had been breached ... in the con­text of ve­hi­cle tests.”

This had led to 10.7 mil­lion cars “be­ing ad­ver­tised, sold to cus­tomers and placed on the mar­ket with an im­per­mis­si­ble soft­ware func­tion” in the U.S., Canada and world­wide be­tween mid-2007 and 2015, the com­pany said.

EPA-Yon­hap

CEO of Volk­swa­gen AG Her­bert Diess speaks dur­ing the Volk­swa­gen AG an­nual gen­eral meet­ing (AGM) in Berlin, Ger­many, in this May 3 file photo. Au­tomaker Volk­swa­gen says it’s be­ing fined 1 bil­lion eu­ros by Ger­man au­thor­i­ties over diesel affair.

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