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No formal inquiry yet against VW ex-CEO

Contrary to an earlier statement, German prosecutors have said they've not launched a probe into Volkswagen's former CEO, Martin Winterkorn. But the company is under increasing pressure from abroad.

German prosecutors in Braunschweig (Brunswick) said Thursday they'd not initiated a formal inquiry against former chief executive of carmaker VW Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over an emissions test rigging scandal.

Prosecutors said earlier this week such a probe had been launched, but an official press statement issued Thursday said the message had been "formulated incorrectly."

The statement made it clear that no specific individuals were targeted so far in the prosecutors' general investigation into the massive pollution cheating scandal. Complaints had been filed by private individuals against Winterkorn, but only initial suspicions were being looked into and there was no formal probe against the former CEO yet, the statement explained.

More trouble ahead

Watch video 01:42

Emissions scandal: VW faces legal action

Already expecting millions of dollars in fines through lawsuits in the US and Canada, the German carmaker is now also looking to Australia where corporations can be fined $777,000 (697,000 euros) for each breach of the national consumer law.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Volkswagen had yet to clarify if it had supplied cars using defeat devices to thwart emission tests.

"Enforcement investigation is a priority for the ACCC," Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. "We're very concerned about the potential consumer and competition detriment; the ACCC will not hesitate to take action, if consumers were exposed to false, misleading or deceptive representations."

Volkswagen Australia said it was still awaiting guidance from its head office on the matter.

hg/pad (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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