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Volkswagen released its annual report earlier this week, and buried in the missive was news that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission could sue the German automaker over its failure to disclose its diesel emissions scandal to investors. The report says that an SEC probe is focusing on "certain Volkswagen diesel vehicles' noncompliance" with U.S. emissions rules.

The automaker admitted to U.S. regulators that it had used an illegal "defeat device" on Sept. 3, 2015 but did not inform investors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California's Air Resources Board made VW's cheating public on Sept. 18, 2015. The company pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony charges related to the scandal. A total of 13 individuals from the Volkswagen Group (which includes Audi and Porsche) have been charged with crimes in the States.

Volkswagen has argued that it was not obliged to inform investors earlier because it did not believe it was facing fines in totaling billions of dollars.

Ultimately, though, VW has so far agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the United States in connection with "Dieselgate" for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, and has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. And that figure is expected to continue climbing. (Reuters contributed to this report.)

Volkswagen Information

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