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Emissions scandal Swiss prosecutors to examine 600 VW complaints

Volkswagen posted its first quarterly loss in at least 15 years on Wednesday, hit by a €6.7 billion charge to cover the cost of rigging diesel emissions tests

(Keystone)

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has agreed to coordinate 600 criminal complaints related to the Volkswagen emissions-rigging scandal that car owners have filed across the country, it confirmed on Thursday.

The Attorney General’s office said the cases filed by private citizens in seven cantons would be combined into one investigation led by federal prosecutors to streamline the process. Most of the complaints are from western French-speaking Switzerland, particularly Geneva.

Private complaints have been flooding in since early October when the owner of a Volkwagen Touran 2.0 TDI diesel car purchased in 2014 filed the first case in Switzerland against the German car group and individuals for fraud and damage to the environment. The owner’s lawyers encouraged other drivers affected by the Volkswagen emission scandal to file identical criminal complaints and thus participate in a joint legal action. 

On October 5, a Swiss consumer association, known as the Fédération romande des consommateurs, filed a criminal complaint against unnamed individuals in connection with the VW affair for violation of the federal law against unfair competition.

VW under pressure

Almost six weeks after it admitted using illegal software to falsify US diesel emissions tests, Europe's biggest carmaker is under pressure to identify those responsible, fix up to 11 million affected vehicles and convince regulators, investors and customers it can be trusted again.

The biggest business crisis in its 78-year history has wiped more than a quarter off VW's stock market value, forced out its long-time chief executive and tarnished a business held up for generations as a model of German engineering prowess. A German bank has estimated that the scandal could cost the German group €50 billion (CHF54.5 billion).

Switzerland’s Federal Roads Officeexternal link has announced that 128,802 diesel engine cars produced by Volkswagen between 2009 and 2014 could be affected by the scandal, which came to light last month. 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 now in force. 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.   

Amag, the largest importer of Volkswagens into Switzerland, said the owners of the affected vehicles would be individually contacted. VW has said it will have to re-fit the 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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