German automaker Volkswagen on Monday was charged with importing nearly 128,000 vehicles into Canada contravening the country's environmental legislation, a Canadian government agency said.
Volkswagen was charged with 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by importing vehicles that did not conform to prescribed emission standards, Environment and Climate Change Canada said.
The charges include 58 counts of contravening the Act between January 2008 and December 2015. The charges also included two counts of providing misleading information, and a court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 in the Ontario Court of Justice.
The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
In 2015, the agency launched an investigation into the importing of certain vehicle models allegedly equipped with a prohibited "defeat device".
In this case, the device was software that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal vehicle use, according to the agency.
"Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers conducted a very comprehensive, thorough and meticulous investigation. Officers gathered an extraordinary quantity of evidence and information from foreign and domestic sources related to the suspected violations of federal environmental legislation," ECCC said in a statement. "This involved collecting all relevant information possible, while working within different international legal environments. They then spent months poring over the information, analyzing and preparing the evidence for Public Prosecution Service of Canada review."
News in 2015 that Volkswagen had used such devices to cheat emissions tests has so far cost the company about 30 billion euros (US$33 billion) in fines, vehicle refits and legal costs, and also triggered a global backlash against diesel vehicles.
Because all charges are currently before the Court, Environment and Climate Change Canada said it will not comment further at this time.
Volkswagen previously lost a pair of class-action lawsuits filed in Canada surrounding the "defeat devices."