Sept 22, 2015 (LBO) – Shares of Volkswagen fell nearly 20 percent on Monday after the German carmaker admitted it had manipulated emissions tests of diesel vehicles in the United States, media reports said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday accused the carmaker of using software that tricked regulators who measured emissions from these vehicles. The vehicles emitted 40 times the legal limit of pollutants when they were on the road, according to the agency.
“The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement.
“We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter,” it said.
The U.S. Justice Department may begin a criminal probe which will show whether the department can hold individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoings after this approach to corporate wrongdoing was flagged as necessary by the department in a recent memo.
Volkswagen, the world’s biggest carmaker by sales, could face fines of up to 18 billion dollars for nearly half a million diesel versions of the VW Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Passat and the Audi A3, reports said.
German officials asserted they would investigate whether emissions data had been falsified in Europe, and the German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said they were concerned about the impact of the investigation on the reputation of their car industry.
The statement of the U.S. EPA can be viewed here