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Fiat Chrysler suspected of emissions cheating: Germany

German regulators suspect that Italian-American auto maker Fiat Chrysler, like Volkswagen, used illegal software to cheat on emissions tests, a newspaper report said Sunday.

Fiat Chrysler suspected of emissions cheating: Germany
The dangerous pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) was released into the atmosphere “at more than 10 times the permitted level“. Photo: DPA

The German Federal Motor Vehicle Office (KBA) had sent a report voicing the suspicion to the European Commission and to Italian authorities, according to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The news report came after Germany on Thursday blasted Fiat for its “uncooperative attitude” for refusing to meet its officials to address questions on whether their vehicles complied with emissions regulations.

German authorities launched a sweeping emissions probe after Volkswagen admitted last year to rigging its engines with so-called defeat devices to cheat pollution tests.

Not only VW vehicles, but other major car brands, including Fiat, showed up irregularities.

Bild am Sonntag reported that testing by the KBA of a Fiat model had shown that the emission control system shut down after 22 minutes – two minutes after the end of a standard test.

This caused the dangerous pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) to be released into the atmosphere “at more than 10 times the permitted level“, the report said according to the newspaper.

The KBA had concluded that there was “sufficient evidence of an impermissible defeat device“, said the newspaper, adding that the automaker had declined to comment on the claims.

Fiat officials had been due to hold a meeting with German authorities on Wednesday but cancelled the talks abruptedly through a lawyer’s letter, the transport ministry said in a statement.

The carmaker had declined to meet as it deemed Italian officials to be the only authority responsible on the question of whether their vehicles complied with existing emissions regulations, the ministry said.

“This uncooperative attitude of Fiat is completely incomprehensible,” said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt.

ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel’s conservative party moves to clean up after ‘mask affair’

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are trying to end corruption allegations roiling their ranks over mask procurement, ordering MPs to declare all financial gains related to the pandemic days ahead of key regional elections.

Merkel's conservative party moves to clean up after 'mask affair'
Angela Merkel on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

A lawmaker from Merkel’s CDU party and another from its CSU Bavarian sister party have been accused of profiting directly or indirectly from mask contracts.

In a move to clean house, the conservative CDU-CSU alliance on Wednesday ordered all of its MPs to declare any financial benefits gained from the coronavirus pandemic by 6pm on Friday.

All members of the CDU-CSU parliamentary group will have to make “a declaration that no such benefits were obtained in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, says the letter addressed to the lawmakers, dated March 10th.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s face mask scandal

This declaration must take into account any financial benefits “from the purchase or sale of medical products such as protective equipment, testing and vaccination supplies, from the provision of contacts, from the forwarding of offers or enquiries, or from the provision of support or advice to third parties”, the letter seen by AFP says.

In the event that such a declaration cannot be made, MPs are urged to report directly to two senior party members.

CSU lawmaker Georg Nüsslein was last month placed under investigation for corruption following accusations that he accepted around €600,000 ($715,000) to lobby for a mask supplier.

A similar controversy has embroiled CDU lawmaker Nikolas Löbel, whose company pocketed 250,000 euros in commissions for acting as an intermediary in mask contracts.

Löbel has resigned from his MP post and Nüsslein has said he will leave after September’s elections, with the deals drawing scathing criticism across the political spectrum.

Amid the fallout from the scandal dubbed the “mask affair” by German media, the conservatives said they had “a responsibility to present and clarify such matters in a completely transparent manner”.

The scandal has led to a drop in the CDU’s popularity ratings just days ahead of two key regional elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The state elections will be a litmus test ahead of Germany’s general election on September 26th – the first in over 15 years not to feature outgoing chancellor Merkel.

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