VW offices raided as company downplays impact of emissions scandal
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March 15, 2017

The headquarters of German auto giant Volkswagen have been raided as part of the ongoing probe into the emissions scandal that led to the company being hit with billion of dollars of fines in the US.

A spokesman for the world's largest automaker confirmed that their offices in Wolfsburg, Germany had been searched as well as offices in Ingolstadt and Neckarsul belonging to VW subsidiary Aldi.

"With these search orders we aim to clarify in particular who was involved in deploying the technology concerned and in the provision of false information to third parties," the Munich prosecutor's office said in a statement.

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The raids came just a day after Volkswagen sought to downplay the impact of the scandal when it released its annual results at a news conference.

"The last year was a challenging yet remarkably successful year for us," CEO Matthias Müller said."In 2016 we set the course for the biggest transformation in the history of the company – while at the same time performing better in our operating business than many thought possible. Volkswagen is back on track."

Despite the sandal the Volkswagen group sold 10.3 million vehicles, with sales in China climbing 12.2 percent to 4 million cars.

Revenue also beat expectations at $230.74 billion, leading to operating profit of $15.49 billion.

The diesel scandal cost the group $6.7 billion but the financial ramifications could into continue this year.

US Prosecutors claim that Volkswagen executives were aware that cars had been manipulated to beat emissions tests as far back as July 2015 but did not disclose the information to regulators.

VW Executive Oliver Schmidt has been arrested by the FBI over the scandal while five other German executives have been charged.

The deceit allegedly began in 2006 when engineers realised that a number of Diesel vehicles could not meet emissions standards but rather than fix the problem they developed a software solution around it.

The vehicles were able to detect when they were being tested for emissions compliance and adjusted their performance to meet the required standards.

The hack was uncovered in 2014 when scientists at West Virginia University discovered that the car's emissions did not match up with Volkswagen's claims.

The CEO of Volkswagen Group, Martin Winterkorn, resigned in the wake of the revelations in September 2015.

The car maker later agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing in the US and to pay $3.4 billion in fines.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

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