Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Investigation

US states seek 'substantial penalties' from VW

  • Decision to use cheating software in diesel cars was taken as far back as 1999, according to a US lawsuit (Photo: Robert Couse-Baker)

Volkswagen's emission fraud began earlier than previously thought, was deliberately done to mislead regulators, executed with the knowledge of upper management, and was covered up.

That harsh summary of what became known as Dieselgate, was given on Tuesday (19 July) by three United States law enforcement chiefs - the attorneys general in the states New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland - who announced they wanted “substantial penalties” from the German industrial giant.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law or the protection of public health and the environment,” New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said in his lawsuit, according to US media.

He said that internal documents from Volkswagen Group (VW) proved that the company decided to use cheating software to turn off emissions filtering systems in diesel cars as far back as 1999.

It was at VW's daughter company Audi where engineers tried to solve a noise problem in their cars' diesel engine. They found a solution, but one that made the car emit more pollution. To still pass the emissions tests, the noise reduction tool was switched off during the test.

The software was later used in other cars as well. Senior executives covered up evidence, the lawsuit said.

Schneiderman called the strategy a “willful and systematic scheme of cheating by dozens of employees at all levels of the company”.

The lawsuit comes less than a month since VW settled with American consumers and the US government for around €13.2 billion.

Schneiderman's counterpart from Massachusetts, Maura Healey, said that regardless of any settlement, state environment laws were violated.

“With today’s action, we want to make clear to all auto manufacturers that violating laws designed to protect our environment and our public health is unacceptable and will be punished with significant penalties,” said Healey.

Schneiderman added tough words of his own.

“These suits should serve as a siren in every corporate board room, that if any company engages in this type of calculated and systematic illegality, we will bring the full force of the law - and seek the stiffest possible sanctions - to protect our citizens,” he said.

The tough language by the US authorities stands in sharp contrast with the situation in the EU.

Although some countries have carried out investigations, Volkswagen has not yet been criminally charged for the use of cheating software, or defeat devices, which are banned under EU law.

New York attorney general press conference
VW will not publish emissions cheat report

Volkswagen said it would keep its preliminary report into the emissions scandal secret because publishing it would “present an unacceptable risk” to the firm.

ECB in ‘bail-out’ of scandal-tainted VW

The ECB has started to “bail out” Germany’s Volkswagen Group by buying its corporate bonds, but other EU-linked banks continue to shun the scandal-tainted firm.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us