French prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into possible fraud over the pollution-cheating software installed in diesel engines by German auto giant Volkswagen, a judicial source said yesterday.
The French investigation opened following information received from an elected official in the Paris region and also from public statements about the scandal that has engulfed VW, the source said.
VW has admitted 11 million autos worldwide are equipped with the software that dupes pollution emission testing. The French probe into suspected “aggravated” deception will only concern cars sold in France.
Nearly 1 million diesel cars of the Volkswagen brands — VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat — have been sold in France in recent years fitted with the pollution-cheating software, according to VW’s French unit.
French Environment Minister Segolene Royal meanwhile denounced VW’s use of the software as “a form of theft from the taxpayer and the state” in that the vehicles concerned benefited from state subsidies towards the purchase of “clean” vehicles.