FRANKFURT, Germany — Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller dismissed reports that the fines facing the embattled automaker in the United States could run into tens of billions of euros as “pure speculation.”
In an interview syndicated to about 30 different German newspapers, Mueller said that “the maximum fines people are talking about, amounting to billions, have not come from us or from the U.S. authorities.” The figures were “pure speculation and unreliable.”
VW is currently embroiled in a scandal of global proportions after it was forced to admit that it had fitted 11 million diesel engines worldwide with devices aimed at cheating emissions tests. It is under investigation in a large number of countries — not least in the United States, where authorities initially uncovered the scam and have now filed a lawsuit against VW.
The civil penalties could run well above $20 billion (18.35 billion euros) according to the suit, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. Media reports put the figure for fines facing VW much higher.
Mueller said VW would not abandon the diesel technology: “If you look at diesel today, it’s a sector that is highly innovative, sporty, sustainable and with low consumption.”
According to the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, VW is hoping to hire former FBI chief Louis Freeh as a mediator with the U.S. authorities.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016