A report sent to justice in 2017 referred to a “global strategy to manufacture fraudulent engines, then to market them”. Peugeot is indicted for “deception endangering the health of humans or animals”.
After Volkswagen in May and Renault on June 8, Peugeot was indicted on June 9 for deception in France in the investigation into the dieselgate scandal, unblocking a file that has been bogged down for years which could also lead to the questioning of Citroën and Fiat-Chrysler.
In a press release dated June 9, Stellantis, Peugeot’s parent company, announced the indictment of its subsidiary “because of allegations of deception relating to the sale of Euro 5 diesel vehicles in France between 2009 and 2015. ” “Our subsidiaries firmly believe that their emission control systems met all the requirements applicable then and continue to meet them today, and they look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate it,” added the group. A judicial source confirmed to AFP the indictment of the count of “deception leading to a danger to the health of humans or animals”.
Almost two million vehicles affected
A report from the DGCCRF (General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control), sent to the courts in February 2017, referred to a “global strategy aimed at manufacturing fraudulent engines, then marketing them”.
According to investigators, some 1.9 million diesel vehicles of the Euro 5 generation (standard in force until 2015), “whose engine operates according to fraudulent strategies”, were sold by PSA (Peugeot-Citroën) between September 2009 and September 2015 in France.
In view of the violations noted, the DGCCRF assessed the maximum fine incurred by the company at 5 billion euros. This amount is however four times less than the maximum fine, 19.7 billion euros, assessed this time by the DGCCRF for Volkswagen. This manufacturer, by whom the dieselgate scandal arrived, was indicted on May 6 for “deception on the substantial qualities of a commodity causing a danger to the health of humans or animals”, indicated a judicial source at AFP.
The questioning in France was made public by the German giant on June 9 in a press release contesting “any damage” to consumers in France. But at the same time, former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn was indicted for false testimony in Germany before a parliamentary commission of inquiry into this resounding scandal of rigged engines, according to the German prosecution. The dieselgate, which has given rise to legal actions in many countries, has already cost Volkswagen 30 billion euros, largely in the United States where the German group pleaded guilty to fraud in 2017.
Volkswagen admitted in the fall of 2015 that it had equipped 11 million of its diesel vehicles with software capable of concealing emissions that sometimes exceed 40 times the authorized standards. Since then, sales of diesel cars have plummeted.
Citroën and Fiat may be worried
In France, the investigations of the DGCCRF had also highlighted “the intentional nature of the fraud” of Volkswagen. The gendarme of Bercy noted, in a report of February 11, 2016 of which AFP was aware, that nearly 950,000 diesel vehicles, equipped with the fraudulent device, had been sold by the German group on French territory.
“For Volkswagen AG, the facts examined by the French courts are included and identical to those already decided in Germany, but the investigating judges told us that, according to them, it was necessary to continue the investigations before deciding definitively on this subject” , the company’s lawyer, Nicolas Huc-Morel, told AFP.
Volkswagen has already challenged this analysis of the magistrates before the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal. His appeal is awaiting examination.
“All the elements seem to confirm the infringements committed by the various manufacturers. The owners of injured vehicles do not understand that there is not a trial as quickly as possible ”, reacted to AFP François Lafforgue, lawyer for the associations Ecologie sans frontières, Respire and a hundred owners of vehicles.
The dieselgate scandal is the subject of various legal information in France. Investigations into this scandal have long been slowed down by a legal battle before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
On June 8, Renault was the first to announce that it had been indicted. Next potential targets on the list, Citroën, then Fiat-Chrysler, also belonging to the Stellantis group: the latter announced their hearing on June 10 and “in July” in a June 9 press release. The indictment is a preliminary step to a possible trial in France.