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VW 'dieselgate' fraud: Timeline of a scandal

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

As Volkswagen faces the wrath of car owners in a mass "dieselgate" lawsuit on its home turf, here's a look at how the emissions cheating was uncovered and the fallout for the auto giant:

- 2014 -

US researchers at the University of West Virginia discover that certain VW diesel cars emit up to 40 times the permissible levels of harmful nitrogen oxide when tested on the road.

- 2015 -

September 18: The US Environmental Protection Agency accuses VW of duping diesel emissions tests using so-called "defeat devices".

September 22: Volkswagen admits installing software designed to reduce emissions during lab tests in 11 million diesel engines worldwide. VW shares plunge by 40 percent in two days.

September 23: Chief executive Martin Winterkorn steps down but insists he knew nothing of the scam.

- 2016 -

April 22: VW announces a net loss for 2015, its first in 20 years, after setting aside billions to cover the anticipated costs of the scandal.

June 28: VW agrees to pay $14.7 billion in buybacks, compensation and penalties in a mammoth settlement with US authorities. The deal, which covers 2.0 litre diesel engines only, includes cash payouts for nearly 500,000 US drivers.

September 21: The first VW investors file lawsuits in a German court seeking billions in damages. They accuse the automaker of failing to communicate about the crisis in a timely way.

December 8: The European Commission launches legal action against seven EU nations including Germany for failing to crack down on emissions cheating.

- 2017 -

January 11: VW pleads guilty to three US charges including fraud and agrees to pay $4.3 billion in civil and criminal fines.

As part of the plea deal, VW signs up to a "statement of facts" in which it admits that the cheating dates back to 2006, but it remains unclear how much the top brass knew about the scam.

February 1: Car parts maker Bosch, which supplied elements of the software, agrees to pay nearly $330 million to US car owners and dealers but admits no wrongdoing.

VW says it will pay at least $1.2 billion to compensate some 80,000 US buyers of 3.0 litre engines as well as buying back or refitting their vehicles.

August 25: A Michigan court sentences VW engineer James Liang to 40 months in prison and a $200,000 fine.

December 6: VW executive Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested while on holiday in Florida, is sentenced to seven years in jail.

- 2018 -

February 23: VW roars back to profit after record sales in 2017.

February 27: A German court paves the way for cities to ban the oldest diesels from their roads to combat air pollution.

April 12: VW brand chief Herbert Diess hastily replaces CEO Matthias Mueller after he too lands in prosecutors' sights.

May 3: Winterkorn is indicted in the US, accused of trying to cover up the cheating.

June 13: VW agrees to pay a one-billion-euro ($1.1 billion) fine in Germany, admitting its responsibility for the diesel crisis. The scandal has now cost the group over 27 billion euros.

June 18: Rupert Stadler, CEO of VW's Audi subsidiary, is arrested in Germany, accused of fraud and trying to suppress evidence.

September 10: Shareholders' case against VW claiming nine billion euros of damages opens in Brunswick.

October 16: Audi agrees to pay a fine of 800 million euros.

November 1: Consumer organisation VZBV files mass lawsuit whose hearings open Monday.

November 16: VW launches far-reaching electrification strategy.

- 2019 -

January 18: Four Audi managers are charged in the United States.

March 15: US market watchdog SEC announces legal action against VW.

April 15: Former CEO Winterkorn and four other managers are charged with "serious fraud" as well as unfair competition and breach of trust.

May 7: Porsche agrees to pay a fine of 535 million euros.

July 31: Stadler and three former Audi managers are charged with fraud.

September 24: Present VW chief Herbert Diess, supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and former CEO Winterkorn are charged with market manipulation.

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