German and French prosecutors have widened their investigations into the emissions scandal at Volkswagen. Authorities in Paris have opened a formal probe into "aggravated fraud" over the use of diesel engine devices that gave misleading emissions results.
Prosecutors in Germany said the number of VW employees now under investigation has increased to 17. Volkswagen, which said it is cooperating with all inquiries, had over 11 million vehicles fitted with the emission cheat devices.
The German Car Giant is carrying out its own internal investigation, and has warned that the cost of car recalls and compensation was likely to run into billions of euros and more recently brought the possibility of job cuts to the table. French prosecutors started preliminary inquiries last year, and confirmed on Tuesday that three magistrates had been assigned to the investigation.
Serious fraud office Chief Nathalie Homobono said investigators had established that Volkswagen had cheated "with intent" by installing so-called engine software that reduced emissions under test conditions.
Authorities in Germany said they had increased the number of VW employers under investigation to 17, but added that no former or current board members are involved, said Klaus Ziehe, from the state prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.
Also on Tuesday, Reuters and the Financial Times were among media reporting that German insurer Allianz Global Investors, a VW shareholder, was close to filing a lawsuit against the carmaker following the fall in VW's share price.
In January, the US Department of Justice filed a civil suit against VW, and the carmaker faces a string of claims from customers that lawyers are likely to consolidate into a class action suit.
VW says it will not comment on specific details of the investigations.
Spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan announced: "As previously stated, Volkswagen is not commenting on on-going discussions with regulators. We are committed to regaining the trust of our customers and dealers and will continue to cooperate with all relevant government agencies."