Volkswagen shares soar after buoyant earnings update

Schneiderman called the strategy a "willful and systematic scheme of cheating by dozens of employees at all levels of the company". The company has said more than 11 million vehicles with the emissions-cheating software were sold around the world.

Volkswagen said in a statement that the states' claims are not new and the company is already working with state and federal authorities to resolve various issues.

VW responded to the new state lawsuits, saying it's cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on a "national resolution" of all remaining environmental issues.

The group also alleges the company destroyed incriminating documents when investigations into the emissions cheat began previous year.

He was joined by the attorney general for Massachusetts, Maura Healey. "... Volkswagen acted as if it was above the law". Instead, some owners were told the recalls were needed for upgrades and "optimize" emissions.

But the officials filing the lawsuits say employees, officers and senior executives were involved in the scandal and the company carried out a cover-up.

The latest legal claims allege that VW's former chief executive Martin Winterkorn - who quit when VW's deception was exposed past year - was aware of the existence of defeat devices a decade ago.

The three AGs have also accused Volkswagen and Audi of repeatedly failing to disclose to regulators the true reason for the discrepancies: the defeat devices.

VW and its subsidiaries showed "utter disregard" for the environmental and health effects of its actions in the two states, according to an advance copy of the lawsuit, which is being filed in state Supreme Court in Albany County. Mr Schneiderman said some of that data had since been recovered. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said penalties against the company might run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Some analysts said the stronger-than-expected results for the six months ended June were a sign a recovery might be taking hold, and Volkswagen (VW) shares jumped more than 5 per cent after the news on Wednesday.

Financially, VW is on a solid footing, with annual sales of around 200 billion euros and a workforce of 600,000.

The prosecutors say consumers who purchased one of the vehicles believed they were buying a "green diesel" auto, even though the vehicles illegally emitted pollutants linked to respiratory disease, elevated ozone levels and smog.

Lawmakers in New York, Massachusetts and Maryland have alleged that the company was engaged in a long running and orchestrated fraud. She is joined by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, second from left.

Despite their reputations for engineering excellence, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche resorted to the illegal defeat devices to enable them to equip their cars with shoddy emissions systems that in many cases would have broken down, without the defeat devices, in less than 50,000 miles, contrary to the durability assurances the automakers had falsely given to regulators.

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