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Diesel-gate First Swiss criminal complaint filed against Volkswagen

Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, has admitted to using software to rig diesel emissions tests in the United States

(Keystone)

The owner of a Volkwagen diesel car has filed a criminal complaint in Geneva against the German car group and individuals for fraud and damage to the environment. This is the first private complaint in Switzerland over the rigging of test emissions. 

Lawyers Jacques Roulet and Guillaume Etiers told the Swiss News Agency on Thursday that the Geneva-based owner of a VW diesel car bought in 2014 had filed a private complaint with the Geneva prosecutor’s office. 

The owner accuses Volkswagen and persons concerned of fraud, fraudulently obtaining the necessary verification of the vehicle, unfair competition, selling a vehicle that was not an approved model and environmental damage harmful to humans.

The complaint urges the authorities to investigate whether exhaust emissions have resulted in deaths or physical injuries. 

The lawyers encourage other owners affected by the Volkswagen emission scandal to file identical criminal complaints and thus participate in a joint legal action.

The complaint does not name any individuals, such as Volkwagen bosses or partners in their dossier. But it is also aimed at individuals or companies involved in the testing, car dealers, importers and sales staff both in Switzerland and abroad.     

128,000 cars in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Federal Roads Officeexternal link announced that around 130,000 diesel engine cars produced by the German automobile giant between 2009 and 2014 “could be affected” by the scandal involving the rigging of emissions tests. These include cars in the Euro5 emissions category, produced by Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen. 

A ban on registering "potentially manipulated" cars in Switzerland is due to come into force next Monday.

However, vehicles of the same brands and types already circulating on Swiss roads are exempted from the ban and can still be registered when sold to a new owner.   

Earlier this week, Amag, the largest importer of Volkswagens into Switzerland, said the owners of the affected vehicles would be individually contacted.

Last Friday, Switzerland was the first country to announce a ban on the sale of new vehicles produced by the German group.

Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn resigned last week, after Europe’s biggest carmaker admitted that cars were equipped with a software programme designed to cheat diesel emissions tests in the United States. An estimated 11 million cars, including five million Volkswagen passenger cars, are affected worldwide. A German bank has estimated that the scandal could cost the German group €50 billion (CHF54.5 billion).

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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