FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German prosecutors said on Wednesday they were searching offices as part of an international fraud investigation into potentially illegal emissions software found in engines used in Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Iveco vehicles.
The searches in Germany, Italy and Switzerland focus on individuals at an international automotive company and an international commercial vehicle manufacturer, the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said in a statement, without naming the companies.
A Fiat Chrysler spokesman said a number of the group’s offices in Europe were visited by investigators in the context of a request for assistance by magistrates in Germany, adding it was cooperating fully with authorities.
CNH Industrial, which makes Iveco commercial vehicles, had no immediate comment.
Potentially illegal software has been detected in the 1.3 litre Multijet and 1.6 litre Multijet engines used in Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Fiat engines as well as in commercial diesel engines used in Iveco and Fiat commercial vehicles, the Frankfurt prosecutors said.
Although these cars passed pollution tests in a laboratory, the cars used software to largely switch off exhaust emissions filtering while driving on the road, they added.
The investigation, which is coordinated by EU justice agency EUROJUST, focuses on nine individuals living in Italy and their activities between 2014 to 2019, they said.
Reporting by Edward Taylor and Joern Poltz in Germany and Giulio Piovaccari in Italy; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter