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Ex-roads ministry worker ‘paid CHF2,000 a month’ to rig emissions data

Switzerland has introduced targets and regulations to reduce vehicle C02 emissions. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

A former employee at the Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) and two board members of a vehicle exporter have been charged with fraudulently manipulating data to avoid CO2 emissions sanctions.

The Swiss federal prosecutor’s office said on Monday that the fraud had illegally saved the vehicle exporter from paying CHF9 million ($9.8 million) in financial penalties relating to emissions.

In 2012, Switzerland introduced CO2 emissions regulations to reduce emissions from new cars by an average of 130g CO2/km. The rules state that importers must pay penalties if these targets are breached.

The two directors of the unnamed car importer stand accused of bribing the ex-FEDRO official CHF2,000 per month to understate the emissions output attributable to their company between 2014 and 2017.

All three suspects have been charged with a variety of offences, ranging from forgery of a document by a public official, multiple counts of accepting bribes to commercial tax fraud and obtaining false certificates by fraud.

The case follows the global scandal of Volkswagen rigging emissions tests on diesel engines, which came to light in 2015 and cost the German car manufacturer tens of billions of euros. But there is no suggestion of a connection between VW and the prosecution announced by the Swiss prosecutor on Monday.

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