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France opens serious fraud probe into Volkswagen

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France opens serious fraud probe into Volkswagen
Photo: AFP
08:12 CET+01:00
French prosecutors have opened a serious fraud investigation into Volkswagen over devices the German automaker fitted into cars to cheat emissions tests, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday.

VW, a former paragon of German industry, has been plunged into its deepest-ever crisis after acknowledging that it had installed emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

The probe, launched by Paris investigators on February 19th, concerns Volkswagen cars sold in France, the source said. It is being handled by three investigating magistrates and follows a preliminary inquiry that started in
early October.

Serious fraud office chief Nathalie Homobono said at her annual news conference Monday that investigators had already established that Volkswagen had cheated "with intent".

VW, which until recently had ambitions to become the world's biggest carmaker, is battling to resolve its deepest-ever crisis, sparked by revelations that it installed emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

The software, known as a "defeat device", limits the output of toxic nitrogen oxides to US legal limits during emissions test by regulators.

But when the vehicles are in actual use, the software allows them to spew poisonous gases at up to 40 times the permitted levels.

Volkswagen France said it would continue to cooperate with authorities, but said the French probe must proceed under a presumption of "innocent until proven guilty".

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