German authorities have not launched a formal inquiry against Volkswagen’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn, a spokesman for authorities in Brunswick, Germany, told Agence France-Presse on Thursday.
No specific individuals have so far been targeted in the official investigation into the massive emissions scandal, and a statement released earlier this week -- which said that Winterkorn was under criminal investigation -- was “formulated incorrectly,” the spokesman told AFP.
Although complaints have been filed by private individuals against Winterkorn -- who stepped down after the malpractices came to light -- only initial suspicions are being looked into, the spokesman added.
The German carmaker is expecting to have to cough up millions of dollars in fines in the U.S. for cheating on diesel emissions tests through its defeat device-equipped cars. Now, the company also faces the prospect of paying similar fines in Australia, if it is found to have sold the rigged cars in the country, where a company can be fined $1.1 million for every breach of consumer law.
“Using defeat devices is specifically prohibited under the Australian Design Rules, which are picked up as Australian Consumer Law (ACL) mandatory safety standards,” Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said, in a statement released Thursday.
“The ACCC will be seeking marketing materials from VW Group and will not hesitate to take action if consumers were exposed to false, misleading or deceptive representation.”