PARIS -- Paris prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into possible fraud over the pollution-cheating software installed in diesel engines by German auto giant Volkswagen (IW 1000/7), a judicial source told AFP Friday.
The investigation was opened following information received from an elected official in the Paris region and also from public statements about the scandal that has engulfed VW, the source said.
Volkswagen has admitted 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with the software that dupes pollution emission testing. The French probe will only concern cars sold in France.
Nearly 1 million diesel cars of the Volkswagen brands -- VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat -- have been sold in France over the past few years that have the pollution-cheating software, according to VW's French unit.
The World Health Organization in 2012 declared emissions from diesel engines to be carcinogenic. The French probe was opened due to this danger to public health.
Alongside the Paris prosecutor's investigation, several complaints have been announced in France by an environmental association and the French owners of Volkswagen diesel cars as well as shareholders in the VW auto group.
Judicial investigations over the Volkswagen scandal have also been launched in several countries, including the United States.
VW itself announced Thursday that it has hired U.S. legal firm Jones Day to conduct an independent probe into the affair that has rocked the entire automobile sector. It is expected to take several months to complete.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015