Spain's high court opened a criminal investigation Wednesday into German automaker Volkswagen over a diesel emissions scandal that affects 11 million cars worldwide. The European country was just the latest federal government to open an official inquiry or court case against Volkswagen, which admitted installing software that faked actual road test emissions to appear more environmentally friendly, discovered in several types of diesel engines in September.
The so-called defeat device software was discovered in a University of West Virginia lab in September after a group of researchers tested several Volkswagen diesel engines. The scientists found the cars' actual emissions were as much as 40 times the legal limit they had been displaying during road tests.
Nearly 700,000 cars in Spain have been affected by the Volkswagen group's trickery, far more than the nearly half a million discovered in the U.S. that triggered discovery of the deception. Volkswagen group also includes several other popular car companies such as Audi and Porsche, and nearly 150,000 of the affected cars in Spain were made by Audi.
European nations have been lopsidedly affected by the emissions scandal since Volkswagen is based in Germany and exports millions of cars to European Union countries. Germany with 2.8 million faulty diesel cars, the United Kingdom with 1.2 million and France with nearly 1 million were the countries most affected by the scandal.
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) October 19, 2015
Spain's proceedings against Volkswagen allege two crimes surrounding the software trickery. The first accusation was that the high emissions violated environmental protection laws in Spain. The second was that the company took advantage of federal subsidies for clean cars that were not actually clean, thereby committing fraud. Spain had offered 1,000 euros in subsidies toward the purchase of every clean diesel car, and it has requested that money back from Volkswagen instead of Volkswagen owners.
Volkswagen must send a representative from the company to the Spanish court to face charges before Nov. 10, Reuters reported.