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Suzuki offices raided in Japanese fuel-economy probe

Japanese officials have raided the headquarters of Suzuki in search for evidence the carmaker cheated on emissions and fuel-economy tests. The raid comes after Suzuki admitted in May it had used illegal testing methods.

Transport ministry officials descended on the company's base in Hamamatsu city, around 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Tokyo on Friday, saying they were looking for documents linked to the carmaker's fuel-efficiency scandal.

"We are raiding Suzuki's headquarters to confirm the information that the company supplied," a ministry official in charge of automotive safety told the news agency AFP.

In May, the carmaker admitted to using a testing method not approved by Japanese regulators, but insisted it had not meant to deceive customers. On Friday, the company said in a statement it would "fully cooperate" with the transport ministry investigation.

Regarding a possible penalty, a company spokesman refused to speculate, saying only that they would have to "wait and see."

Lame excuses

Suzuki has admitted that it used the unapproved testing method since 2010 and that 26 vehicle models were involved in the scandal. More than two million cars, all sold in Japan, were affected, it said.

It also said that its fuel data were compiled from indoor readings from individual car parts because the company's windy testing location on a coastal hill had made outdoor readings erratic.

On Tuesday, Suzuki even blamed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 for its troubles, saying the financial shock that followed the collapse of the US investment bank forced it to scale back resources earmarked for testing. "The increased workload of developing new models and engines led Suzuki to be unable to allocate sufficient manpower for the test," it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Japan's transport ministry has ordered widespread checks to industry methods because of the scandal, which began in April when Suzuki's smaller rival Mitsubishi admitted it manipulated fuel economy data, overstating their efficiency.

uhe/kd (Reuters, AFP)

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