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High Court judge accepts prosecutor’s request to investigate Volkswagen

German car-maker is facing charges including misleading advertising and subsidy fraud

The headquarters of VW in Wolfsburg. Ampliar foto
The headquarters of VW in Wolfsburg.

The Spanish High Court will investigate Volkswagen’s alleged rigging of its diesel engines. Judge Ismael Moreno on Wednesday ruled that he had the competent authority to investigate cases brought against the Volkswagen Group, and called the manufacturing giant to appear in court on November 10, and appoint a representative, lawyer and attorney.

The judge has agreed that all three groups can bring their cases against VW, provided they post a bond of €5,000

The decision was taken after the High Court public prosecutor requested that the German group be investigated for misleading advertising, environmental offenses and subsidy fraud. The latter offense relates to the government’s Plan PIVE, under which subsidies were paid to manufacturers when a consumer traded in an older, more-polluting vehicle on the purchase of a new one.

A number of other requests had also been filed with the court, coming from far-right pseudo union Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), a group of consumers affected by the rigged engines, and APDEF, an association created to protect victims of abusive practices carried out by financial entities.

The judge has agreed that all three groups can bring their cases against VW, provided that they each post a bond of €5,000 within 10 days and that they be represented by a single lawyer.

The judge also accepted the investigations requested by the public prosecutor, including calling on Spain’s Industry Ministry to send all of the information it has in its power regarding the engines, which VW admits it rigged using software in order to make the emissions of its vehicles appear lower during testing. The judge wrote that he considered these investigations “pertinent and necessary” and that they referred to “absolutely vital” questions if the facts of the case are to be cleared up.

The judge will also call on VW to hand over the details of the number of affected vehicles that were sold in Spain, as well as a detailed chart of the company’s Spanish organizational structure.

According to the company, 683,626 automobiles in Spain are equipped with the tampered EA 189 Euro 5 diesel engines, which come with software that reduces emissions during regulatory testing, but not on the road. There are, the company reported, 257,479 Volkswagens, 221,783 Seats, 147,095 Audis, 37,082 Skodas and 20,187 Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles affected in Spain.

English version by Simon Hunter.