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VW fined €1 bil. by German prosecutors

Reuters file photo

Volkswagen export cars are seen in the German port of Emden, beside the VW plant, on March 9.

Reuters BERLIN (Reuters) — Volkswagen was fined €1 billion ($1.18 billion) over diesel emissions cheating in what amounts to one of the highest ever fines imposed by German authorities against a company, public prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The German fine follows a U.S. plea agreement from January 2017 when VW agreed to pay $4.3 billion to resolve criminal and civil penalties for installing illegal software in diesel engines to cheat strict U.S. anti-pollution tests.

“Following thorough examination, Volkswagen AG accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it. 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,” it said in a statement.

The fine is the latest blow to Germany’s auto industry, which cannot seem to catch a break from the diesel emissions crisis. Germany’s government on Monday ordered Daimler to recall nearly 240,000 cars fitted with illicit emissions-control devices, part of a total of 774,000 models affected in Europe as a whole.

Munich prosecutors this week widened an emissions cheating probe into VW’s luxury brand Audi to include Chief Executive Rupert Stadler among the suspects accused of fraud and false advertising.

The prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig imposed the fine against VW on Wednesday for organizational deficiencies which failed to prevent “impermissible software functions” from being installed in 10.7 million cars between 2007 and 2015.

The fine did not address any civil claims or claims by vehicle owners, the prosecutor’s office said in its statement. It does, however, end regulatory offense proceedings against Volkswagen, which the Wolfsburg-based carmaker said would help to settle further administrative proceedings against VW in Europe.

VW shares closed 0.1 percent higher at €159.78.

VW is far from being out of the woods. The carmaker’s new chief executive, Herbert Diess, and the group’s chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch are still being investigated by Braunschweig prosecutors for suspected market manipulation.

Poetsch, also CEO of VW’s majority stakeholder Porsche SE, is separately being investigated by prosecutors in Stuttgart over the same suspicions.

“Courts will now hardly be able to dismiss consumer complaints,” said Jan-Eike Andresen of platform MyRight which has mandated U.S. law firm Hausfeld to pursue civil claims.

Hausfeld represents aggrieved VW owners and shareholders on both sides of the Atlantic.Speech

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