PARIS -- French investigators have referred Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for possible prosecution over abnormal emissions of nitrogen oxide pollutants from some of its diesel engines, the government said on Monday.
An investigation, launched in the wake of the Volkswagen Group emissions-cheating scandal, alleged that pollutants from some FCA models were several times higher than regulatory limits.
A file on the automaker has been passed to prosecutors, a statement from the finance and industry ministry said, while investigations into other car brands continue.
The decision makes FCA the third manufacturer to be referred to French prosecutors, after VW and Renault.
The referral follows a testing program carried out by French regulators last year for a number of different carmakers.
According to findings published last July, FCA's Jeep Cherokee model emitted eight times the NOx limit on a slightly modified regulatory lab test. The Fiat 500X emitted almost 17 times the limit in road testing, the report said.
FCA reiterated on Tuesday that its diesel vehicles were fully compliant with applicable emissions requirements.
A FCA spokesman added that the group had not yet been informed of the facts behind the French allegations, but looked forward to having the opportunity to respond.
He said the company had already provided some information to the French authorities that showed the results of some of their tests did not correspond with those done by the Italian ministry of transport and the carmaker itself.
The FCA spokesman said the company had reservations about tests carried out on a single vehicle sample and according to testing methodologies the group said were not provided for by current regulations. He added the carmaker would cooperate with the investigation and remained confident the matter would be clarified in due course.
Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused FCA of using hidden software to allow excessive diesel emissions to go undetected, leaving it facing a maximum fine of about $4.6 billion.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne angrily rejected the U.S. allegations, saying there was no wrongdoing and FCA never sought to create software to cheat emissions rules. He also stressed FCA's situation cannot be compared with VW's.
Tensions have also arisen between Rome and Berlin after Germany raised concerns over the 500X, Fiat Doblo and Jeep Renegade, alleging that they were equipped with illegal cheating software. FCA rejects the allegations.