FCA manager charged over diesel manipulation claims

25 September 2019

FCA manager charged over diesel manipulation claims

25 September 2019

A senior manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has been charged in connection with the US probe into diesel emissions, according to documents recently released.

The indictment of Emanuele Palma, a diesel drivability and emissions senior manager at FCA, took place in September last year. He was accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud, defraud the US, violating the Clean Air Act and making false statements about the emissions system used on the carmaker's US diesel vehicles.

Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford entered a not guilty plea on Palma's behalf. US attorney Timothy Wyse wanted GPS monitoring of Palma because he considered the flight risk ′severe' but he was released on a $10,000 (€9,100) unsecured bond.

In charge

During the hearing, Wyse said that Palma ′was the lead manager, the lead engineer of producing deceptive software that went into over 100,000 vehicles.' Wyse said ′as a result of his engineering decisions, his management, his lies, that these vehicles on the road admitted dramatically higher pollutants than were allowed by law.' Wyse said Palma then lied to investigators.

The alleged fraud allowed Palma and the unnamed co-conspirators to obtain a favourable fuel economy rating that made FCA vehicles more attractive to potential customers, the indictment said. Prosecutors alleged the conduct resulted in deceptive claims to customers that the vehicles featured ′clean EcoDiesel engines,' the indictment said.

FCA has said that it intends to cooperate with authorities in this matter, as it has done since the start of proceedings.

Second case

FCA agreed to pay about $800 million (€728 million) to resolve civil claims from the Justice Department, state officials and customers alleging the company installed illegal software allowing more than 100,000 diesel-powered vehicles to dupe government emissions tests and then pollute beyond legal limits on the road. The settlement did not resolve any potential criminal liability, the Justice Department said when unveiling the agreement.

Mark Chernoby, FCA’s head of North American safety and regulatory compliance said in the statement: ′We acknowledge that this has created uncertainty for our customers, and we believe this resolution will maintain their trust in us.'

The carmaker has denied any wrongdoing. It was the second major manufacturer to be investigated in the US after the Dieselgate scandal broke through Volkswagen's ′cheat device' installation.

The Italian manufacturer has been facing investigations in Europe, with French prosecutors opening an investigation into the alleged emissions cheating. Although it was cleared of any wrongdoing in Italy, the European Commission is prepared to launch legal action against authorities in the country for failing to appropriately scrutinise the manufacturer.