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VW settles Australia emissions cheating scandal

[SYDNEY] Volkswagen has agreed to pay up to A$127 million (S$120 million) to settle multiple class action suits brought by Australian motorists over a diesel emissions cheating scandal, the parties' lawyers said Monday.

The German car giant, which owns brands ranging from luxury Audi to lower-end Skoda, said in 2015 that 11 million diesel engines globally were affected.

Owners of about 100,000 Australian cars will be able to seek compensation from Volkswagen under the terms of the in-principle agreement, which the automaker has agreed to without admitting liability and must still be approved by the Federal Court.

"This is an important step in providing a measure of justice and redress to the thousands of Australian motorists who claim they were financially impacted by the diesel emissions issue," said Julian Schimmel, principal lawyer of Maurice Blackburn, the firm behind one of the class actions.

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It was revealed in 2015 that more than 97,000 Volkswagen vehicles in Australia were fitted with technology that was designed to cheat emissions tests.

The automaker said in a statement that it views the settlements as "a further step towards overcoming the diesel issue", with each affected customer expected to receive a payment of about Aus$1,400.

Volkswagen is also being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with the watchdog alleging multiple breaches of the law that could result in a hefty fine if the case succeeds in court.

The car giant previously reached multibillion-dollar settlements to compensate American and Canadian motorists over the scandal, which has been dubbed "dieselgate".

AFP