February 20, 2019 / 10:06 AM / 10 months ago

Daimler risks fine as German prosecutors launch new probe

BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors have launched a probe into Daimler for allegedly failing to prevent diesel emissions cheating, possibly resulting in a fine for the carmaker, as its legal woes mount up over the affair.

The Daimler is seen during a press conference on the second press day of the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

German carmakers, among the global leaders in diesel technology, have been caught in the crosshairs of courts and regulators around the globe after Volkswagen in 2015 admitted to using engine control devices to cheat U.S. diesel emission tests.

Germany’s transport ministry said last June that 774,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe had been found to contain unauthorized defeat devices resulting in higher emissions. It ordered Daimler to recall more than 200,000 cars in Germany.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are also investigating emissions of Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart, where Daimler is headquartered, launched an investigation into individual employees of the company some two years ago, which is still ongoing.

“We have now also initiated proceedings against Daimler as a company,” a prosecution spokesman said, adding the company may have neglected its supervisory duties.

Last June, the Stuttgart prosecutors said they were considering probes against Daimler, VW’s Porsche unit and automotive supplier Bosch over potential emissions cheating.

Earlier this month, they launched proceedings against auto supplier Robert Bosch for providing Volkswagen with engine management software that the carmaker used to cheat vehicle emissions tests in 2015.

It was unclear what level of fine Daimler could face. A spokeswoman for the company said Daimler was cooperating fully.

Volkswagen in June was fined one billion euros ($1.13 billion) for diesel emissions cheating, one of the highest ever fines imposed by German authorities.

Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach, writing by Ludwig Burger and Riham Alkousaa, Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Alexandra Hudson

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