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Austria to begin emissions investigations into two unnamed companies

Posted by Admin on September 26, 2017 in the following categories: Emissions News

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Austria’s Wirtschafts- und Korruptionsstaatanswaltschaft (WKStA) is the countries Central Public Prosecutor’s Office that investigates corruption and other economic criminal cases. A WKStA prosecutor’s spokeswoman has revealed that they have reportedly been looking into two companies for suspicious emissions results for a number of months and will continue to do so for many more.

She did not disclose which companies were under investigation, nor did she name any individuals. However, she did confirm the basis for investigating the companies were on grounds of serious fraud; environmental offences; and financial crimes reportedly relating to Volkswagen’s own emissions scandal.

The VW scandal

VW’s name made all the headlines when it was revealed they had installed so-called “defeat devices” in some 11 million of their vehicles across the world, seemingly in order to ‘cheat’ official emissions testing. As years of investigations and probes have gone by, several executives have been indicted and charged, and the company itself has lost around $25 billion dollars in penalty fines, settlements and consumer schemes in the U.S.

The company has entered in to plea deals in the U.S. perhaps to avoid even larger fines, but they have denied liability in Europe. Are we to see something similar with Austria’s probes in to whichever car makers are involved in these recent investigations by WKStA?

European Anti-Fraud Office investigations

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has also revealed they will send their judicial recommendations to German prosecutors on their investigations into VW. The authority is mandated by the European Union and has concluded over 1,400 investigations, recommending the recovery of over a grand total of 3 billion Euros to the EU budget.

OLAF had reportedly been investigating VW for their use of EU funds and European Investment Bank loans to fund the development of the programmed software allegedly used in the so-called “defeat devices”.

Recent agreements in Austria

Recently, on the 22 August, Austria’s Transport Minister, Joerg Leichtfried, reported that he’d reached an agreement with multiple carmakers to update some vehicles fitted with emissions ‘cheating’ software in a bid to reduce pollution.

Some 600,000 diesel cars are expected to be updated, although owners may be hesitant in trusting the update to “fix” their cars given many reported problems caused by these so-called “fixes” worldwide. Many people have reported various issues believed to be stemming from these emissions updates, including reductions in fuel economy, and losses of power.

The software update in Austria will supposedly reduce NOx emissions by at least a quarter.

Customers may however welcome any offer of subsidies for owners who want to swap their affected diesel cars for new ones. Buyers of electric cars are expected to receive along the lines of a 10,000 Euro discount if they swap in their old ‘dirty diesel’ cars for greener vehicles.

The meeting

According to the Transport minister, representatives for Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Opel, Porsche, Renault, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen reportedly attended the meeting. Whilst only the VW group, Mercedes and Renault are set to be carrying out some form of ‘software updates’ on vehicles, the others have suggested they will take part in incentive schemes. The amount of incentive subsidy is to be decided and provided for by the car maker of the exchanged vehicle.

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