Porsche is the latest Volkswagen brand to be sucked into the ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal that first erupted three years ago.
German police and prosecutors raided a number of Audi and Porsche properties on Wednesday in search of documents as part of an investigation into two top Porsche executives and one former employee.
Prosecutors are investigating the individuals on suspicion of fraud and false advertising related to masking emissions in diesel vehicles manufactured by Porsche, reported The Financial Times. The unnamed people under suspicion include a member of the Porsche management board and a senior Porsche manager.
Porsche confirmed to Fortune that investigators “inspected and secured documents at the offices of Porsche AG in Stuttgart and Audi AG in Ingolstadt.”
Audi AG and Porsche AG are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities, a spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015 when it was revealed that Volkswagen Group’s so-called “Clean Diesel” vehicles were really a hoax. Volkswagen had pinned its U.S. sales strategy on vehicles with this clean diesel technology.
In reality, about 580,000 VWs in the U.S. and almost 10.5 million more worldwide, weren't even close to achieving the emissions standards and fuel efficiency that Volkswagen had advertised. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a "notice of violation" in September 2015 that the automaker used illegal software in certain diesel engines to circumvent emissions laws. The software was programmed to recognize when the car was being tested for emissions and take actions to mask the levels spewing from its exhaust. Once testing was over, the vehicle would revert to sending illegal levels of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.
The raids follow a recent management shakeup and restructuring at Volkswagen Group that included the ouster of CEO Matthias Mueller. Herbert Diess, who was the head of the Volkswagen brand, was picked as VW Group’s next CEO. Oliver Blume, the head of the Porsche brand, was added to VW Group’s management board as part of the changes.
Volkswagen Group will be organized into six business areas, with the truck and bus division to be prepared for a potential stand-alone stock listing. The company’s different auto brands, which include Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Porsche, will be grouped into volume, premium, and super-premium segments. And Rupert Stadler, the head of Audi who has been plagued by his company’s role in the diesel scandal, will be responsible for group sales.
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