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1ST LEAD Audi accepts 800-million-euro fine for diesel emissions cheating By Matthias Arnold and Thomas Struenkelnberg, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Munich (dpa) - Upmarket German carmaker Audi is to be fined 800 million euros (926 million dollars) for cheating in emissions tests for its diesel-powered engines, Munich prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The carmaker, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, acknowledged responsibility, accepted the fine and said it would have a material effect on its annual results for this year.

The Munich prosecutor‘s office said the fine has been imposed due to "deviations from regulatory requirements in certain V6 and V8 diesel engines and diesel vehicles."

In its statement, Audi said: "Taking into consideration the extraordinary effects of the fine, the Audi Group will significantly underperform ... on its forecast for 2018 financial results." It did not provide any figures.

Porsche Holding, as majority owner of VW, also downgraded its forecast operating profit for 2018 by some 900 million euros to between 2.5 and 3.5 billion euros, as Porsche SE announced on Tuesday.

To date, VW has paid out some 27 billion euros in fines and compensation, but Frank Schwope, an automotive sector analyst for the NordLB bank, predicted that this fine would not be the last word at Audi on the diesel scandal.

The vzbv association of German consumer organizations and Germany‘s ADAC automobile club have indicated they intend to take legal action against VW. Investor associations, which have lost considerable sums as a result of the fallout from the scandal, have also initiated legal action.

The group as a whole could face further charges ranging from 10 billion to 20 billion euros, Schwope estimates.

Nevertheless, he is predicting records for VW in units sold, turnover and profits, with deliveries rising by more than 3 per cent to more than 11 million vehicles in 2018.

The fine imposed will not benefit consumers, but will instead flow into the state coffers, as Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback made clear.

An earlier fine of a 1 billion euros imposed by Braunschweig prosecutors on VW went to Lower Saxony - VW is based at Wolfsburg in the state.

Responding to widespread criticism of this, Bausback said he believed the fines should directly benefit those impacted by the companies‘ wrongdoing.

"Fines that our state prosecutors impose on companies must in future benefit the damaged parties. It cannot continue to be the case that fines imposed on companies go only to the state treasury," he said.

Consumer organizations have taken a similar view. Klaus Mueller, head of the vzbv, said the money should be used to retrofit older diesels to clean up emissions.

VW has paid huge fines in the United States, where the scandal first broke in September 2015. Car owners there have received compensation.

Munich prosecutors are continuing to pursue their case against former Audi head Rupert Stadler, who was arrested in June and remains in custody. Investigations into a total of 20 accused are proceeding, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The prosecutors are also pursuing a charge of fraud with chassis numbers and test protocols in South Korea aimed at deceiving the South Korean authorities.


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