The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against German automaker Volkswagen on Monday for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by installing illegal devices to impair emission control systems in nearly 600,000 vehicles.
According to a senior officer from Justice Department, the allegations in the lawsuit carry penalties that could cost Volkswagen billions of dollars.
The Justice Department accuses Volkswagen four counts of violating the U.S. Clean Air Act, including tampering with the emissions control system and failing to report violations.
The Justice Department has also been investigating criminal fraud allegations against Volkswagen for misleading U.S. consumers and regulators. However, Criminal charges would require a higher burden of proof than the civil lawsuit.
The Environmental Protection Agency has just announced Volkswagen violated federal law by using defeat devices in diesel engine vehicles. What’s more, the agency said that recall discussions with the company hadn’t been resolved.
In addition to Volkswagen, the lawsuit also names company units Audi AG, Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America as defendants.
The U.S. said the violations involved car models from 2009 to 2016 including some Volkswagen Jettas, Golfs and Passats, as well as the Audi A6 and A7 Quattro.