German prosecutors are weighing up whether to investigate Volkswagen subsidiary Audi after the manufacturer admitted that over 2m of its cars are affected by the manipulated emissions scandal.
Prosecutors in Ingolstadt, the Bavarian town where Audi is based, are reviewing evidence to decide whether to initiate criminal proceedings, writes Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin.
Wolfram Herrle, chief prosecutor in Ingolstadt, told the Financial Times that the authority had launched a review on Wednesday “in the first place to establish the facts, and secondly, whether a criminal act has taken place.”
The prosecutor said that investigations into named individuals would be launched only after this first phase had concluded.
The Ingolstadt prosecutors have asked prosecutors in Lower Saxony, where Volkswagen is based, if they will take over the inquiry.
Mr Herrle said:
From our point of view, this should, from the beginning, be reviewed all together.
Audi declined to comment.
On Monday, prosecutors in Lower Saxony opened a criminal inquiry into former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn over “alleged fraud through the sale of cars with manipulated emissions data”.
German criminal law does not allow the prosecution of a company, but individuals may be held responsible for wrongdoing.
Mr Winterkorn said when he resigned last week that he was “not aware of any wrongdoing on my part”.
Ulrich Hackenberg, head of research and development at Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi, is among those who have been suspended following the emissions scandal. Mr Hackenberg is contesting his suspension, according to a person familiar with his case. Volkswagen and Audi could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.
Audi admitted on Monday that 2.1m of its diesel cars – including 577,000 in Germany – had been fitted with the illegal software, that understate nitrogen oxide emissions in laboratory tests. In total, some 11m VW group vehicles contain defeat devices.
Story Sent To Us From: http://www.ft.com/fastft/399881/german-prosecutors-consider-audi-probe