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Volkswagen offices raided amid probe

VW’s head office in Germany and other sites have been searched after the emission tests scandal.

Car maker Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, central Germany. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen's offices have been raided, as prosecutors step up their probe into the group in the wake of the company's emission tests scandal.

The public prosecutor has confirmed the group's head office in the northern German city of Wolfsburg, as well as sites in other cities across the nation, have all been searched.

Prosecutors around the world have launched investigations into the company in the wake of the scandal, which erupted last month when the carmaker admitted that it equipped its diesel-powered vehicles with software aimed at cheating on emission tests.

The company is under pressure to identify those responsible, to say how vehicles with illegal software will be fixed and whether it also cheated in Europe.

Meanwhile, new CEO Matthias Mueller warned staff on Tuesday to brace for " massive cutbacks" in response to the diesel emissions scandal.

Volkswagen employs close to 60,000 at its main factory, roughly 10 percent of its global workforce.

"We need to make massive cutbacks in order to manage the consequences of the crisis," Mueller told more than 20,000 workers at the staff gathering, according to a statement released by Volkswagen.

At the same time, Volkswagen submitted plans to Germany's KBA watchdog to spell out how it would make its diesel vehicles comply with emissions laws.

The transport ministry said it had been assured by the company that the deadline would be met.

" DEGREE OF FRIGHT "

Hans Dieter Poetsch, the company's new chairman, addressed reporters after the carmaker's 20-person supervisory board met at its headquarters in Wolfsburg.

The scandal has wiped more than a third off its share price, forced out its long-time chief executive and sent shockwaves through both the global car industry and the German establishment.

One source close to the matter said there was a "certain degree of fright" among management ahead of Horn's appearance before the congressional panel.

However, the source said it was too early to name those responsible for installing software in some diesel engines to manipulate emissions tests.

Poetsch, 64, promised US law firm Jones Day was "leaving no stone unturned" in its investigations.

Additional information by Reuters

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