The European anti-fraud office that is investigating whether Volkswagen used EU funds and European Investment Bank (EIB) loans to develop devices that cheated emission tests has sent its judicial recommendations to German prosecutors.
Volkswagen was plunged into the biggest business crisis in its 80-year history when the cheating scandal was exposed in September 2015. It has cost the company more than €21 billion in fines, compensation and vehicle refits.
European anti-fraud office OLAF said it had investigated whether there was any link between funds VW received and the production of engines or devices that could be used to manipulate emission tests.
Volkswagen has denied misusing the funds and said they were used for their designated purpose.
“OLAF sent its final report and a judicial recommendation to the German national authorities, namely the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig, Germany, as well as an administrative recommendation to the European Investment Bank,” OLAF said.
It added it had recommended the EIB review the implementation of its anti-fraud policies.
The bank said it would study OLAF’s findings and decide on how to proceed. It added it was also reviewing its relationship with VW and was not considering any new loans to the company for the time being.
“We cannot exclude that one loan of €400 million (‘Volkswagen Antrieb RDI’) was linked to emissions control technologies developed at the time the defeat software was designed and used,” the EIB’s President Werner Hoyer said in a statement.
“We are very disappointed at what is asserted by the OLAF investigation, namely that the EIB was misled by VW about the use of the defeat device,” he added.
Since 1990, VW’s worldwide operations have received around €5 billion in loans from the EIB, with 4.5 billion in Europe, the bank said.
“Their scope includes technologies targeting improved environmental performance of passenger cars, which in total accounted for about one third of the total lending to Volkswagen since 1990,” the bank said.
In May 2016 it announced that VW had repaid two €975-million loans ahead of schedule.
Following the diesel scandal, the European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, is getting more powers to monitor testing and fine automakers.
The Commission and member states have come under fire for allowing automakers to justify a long list of exceptions and loopholes when being checked for pollutants.