German prosecutors are demanding stiff penalties for three Daimler employees at the centre of the latest chapter of a scandal that has rocked the German auto industry.
A spokeswoman for prosecutors in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart announced on Friday that the matter concerns suspected fraud and centers on allegedly doctored emission results for diesel engines.
According to the prosecutor’s brief, the people concerned are an employee from Daimler’s lower management as well as two clerks described as being “without personnel responsibility”, meaning they followed orders they knew or should have known were outside the law.
They are accused of being responsible for the engine control software of some of the diesel vehicles that suppressed readings.
If convicted they could each face up to 12 months behind bars.
Daimler put the cars on the European market between August 2011 and December 2016.
While confirming that the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office had applied for penalty orders against the three employees in individual proceedings, Daimler disputed the charges.
According to the company’s findings “the interpretation of the highly complex regulations by the employees at the relevant time” was “justifiable” and not done with the intention of acting unlawfully.
Daimler therefore “does not share the legal assessment of the public prosecutor’s office that the facts in question constituted fraud.”
The prosecution further announced that a case against another clerk had been dropped in exchange for the payment of a fine. The investigations into four people have not yet been concluded.