December 19, 2019 / 10:45 PM / a month ago

Australia fines Volkswagen record $86 million for emissions breach: regulator

The revised logo of German carmaker Volkswagen AG is pictured during a preview of the world's biggest automaker at the international Frankfurt Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

(Reuters) - Australia’s competition regulator said the federal court has penalized Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) a record A$125 million ($86 million) for allegedly making false representations about compliance with the country’s diesel emission standards.

The penalty amount is the highest ever ordered by the court for contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement on Friday.

ACCC said the German automaker admitted that it switched to two different software modes for testing and driving conditions, thereby not disclosing the original level of nitrogen oxide emissions.

The breach of law occurred when the auto giant sought approval to supply and import more than 57,000 vehicles into Australia between 2011 and 2015.

“Volkswagen’s conduct was blatant and deliberate,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“This penalty reflects a trend of ever higher penalties for breaches of Australian consumer law,” Sims said.

Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.

Volkswagen was found using prohibited software in U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel vehicles that has so far cost it billions of dollars in fines, penalties and buyback costs.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing

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