Police have searched Volkswagen France's headquarters near Paris, as local and international authorities continue to investigate the German automaker's software trickery, which made the emissions of certain diesel cars appear more environmentally friendly on tests than they actually are. The French raid -- carried out Friday but not reported until Sunday -- is the latest event in a scandal surrounding the parent company Volkswagen AG worldwide.
Authorities with France's environmental-protection agency assisted in conducting the search at the Volkswagen unit's headquarters at Villers-Cotterets, 52 miles north of Paris. Like countries such as Canada, China, Germany and the U.S., France has launched a national probe of VW's activities to determine whether the firm employed its defeat devices in its territory.
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) October 18, 2015
During the search of the Volkswagen unit's offices, investigators seized computers, according to the Paris prosecutor's office. A Volkswagen France representative said the group cooperated with the police "with full transparency."
Authorities probing Volkswagen have attempted to find out which, if any, international branches of the company were aware of the defeat devices.
The Volkswagen emissions-test scandal exploded after a research team at the University of West Virginia discovered that some of the company's diesel cars were outfitted with defeat devices that faked carbon emissions. The team tested the cars on the road and found the cars could emit as much as 40 times the legal limit. The scandal has since gone very wide, with Volkswagen leadership admitting last month that as many as 11 million cars may have been affected around the world.
News of the French raid came the day after Porsche Automobil Holding SE, the holding company that controls a majority stake in Volkswagen, said Hans Dieter Poetsch would succeed Martin Winterkorn as its CEO. Poetsch was designated the new chairman of the VW supervisory board this month, while Winterkorn resigned as the firm's chairman last month. Winterkorn has been at the center of coverage of the emissions-test scandal.