Business & Economy News Poland

Poland slaps record fine on Volkswagen over ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal

Warsaw, Poland – Poland’s competition regulator UOKiK announced earlier this week it was imposing a record fine of 120 million zlotys (over 28 million €) on Volkswagen over the ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal.

Volkswagen fined 120 million zlotys in Poland

The Polish consumer watchdog noted that the German car-maker had misled customers regarding the level of emissions of its vehicles.

This is the biggest-ever fine slapped by the Polish regulator for the violation of consumers’ rights.

“False information in advertising materials caused misinformation – they referred to Volkswagen’s pro-ecological attitude, when in fact the cars were not environmentally friendly”, UOKiK head Marek Niechcial announced in a statement. “The environmental awareness of Poles is growing, which is why many people could have deliberately chosen cars that emitted less harmful substances”, he added.

In a statement sent to Reuters, Volkswagen Poland said it “does not see legal grounds for the fine published today by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection in Poland”. The German-owned company still has the possibility to appeal the decision in court.

Former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned five days after the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal broke out.

A worldwide emissions scandal

The fine imposed by Polish authorities is only the latest development in the so-called ‘Dieselgate’ scandal that erupted in 2015 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that Volkswagen had manipulated emissions tests on its diesel engines.

The car-maker later admitted it had installed misleading software in 11 million of cars of its different brands (Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, and Seat), including 8.5 million in Europe, to meet the required emissions levels during the testing period even though the emissions actually far exceeded the authorized levels.

In some cases, Volkswagen cars emitted 40 times more nitrogen oxide – a harmful substance linked to numerous respiratory and cardiovascular diseases – than legally allowed.

The scandal provoked a worldwide backlash against diesel vehicles and the German car-maker, for whom the scandal has already cost, before the Poland ruling, some 30 billion € in fines, legal costs and vehicle refits, and forced many of the company’s top executives to resign and face legal action for fraud, breach of trust and unfair competition.

Main photo credit: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images