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2016-01-05 12:05

SCANDAL CONTINUES: The US Justice Department said it is seeking per-car penalties of up to $37 500 and up to $2750 per defeat device. This could take the cost of the suit for VW to $20-billion.Image: AFP / Michael Sohn

Frankfurt, Germany — Shares in Volkswagen AG are sliding after the US Justice Department sued the German automaker over emissions-cheating software  fitted to diesel vehicles.

Volkswagen's shares were 3.1% lower at 122.45 euros ($133.05) in Frankfurt trading on Tuesday morning — easily the worst performer on the DAX index of blue chip stocks, which was 0.4% higher overall.

The Justice Department's move on Monday potentially exposes the company to billions in fines for clean air violations.

Volkswagen set aside 6.7 billion euros to deal with the costs of recalling and fixing cars after the scandal erupted in September, but the ultimate costs to the company are expected to be considerably higher.

A raft of private class-action lawsuits filed by angry VW owners also is pending.

Read: Emissions scandal: US sues VW for $20-billion


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