WASHINGTON -- A U.S. House committee has begun a new investigation into allegations of overseas emissions cheating by Volkswagen Group and is seeking testimony from the automaker's CEO Herbert Diess.
In a letter, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the committee was investigating reports that Volkswagen "continues to circumvent global emissions requirements" and pointed out that the automaker’s headquarters was recently searched by German authorities.
"Recently, the Science Committee obtained information from a confidential source supporting the law enforcement actions and raising concerns that VW is perpetuating this scheme in Europe and elsewhere globally," said the letter, which was also signed by another committee member, Republican Dana Rohrabacher, from California.
Information obtained by the committee indicates "that VW continues to struggle to comply with the applicable regulations, particularly in Europe," the lawmakers wrote.
The letter, dated April 12, comes more than two years after VW’s scheme to cheat on U.S. emissions tests was made public, a scandal that rocked Europe’s largest automaker, led to the resignation of its then-CEO and cost the company $30 billion in fines from authorities and other related costs.
A VW spokeswoman said in an email late Tuesday night that the company had "cooperated fully with U.S. government and regulatory agencies regarding its compliance with U.S. emissions standards." She added that "the committee appears to be seeking information outside its jurisdiction, including about diesel vehicle emissions and repairs in other countries."
Diess was named the company’s CEO this month, taking over for former chief Matthias Mueller, the Porsche executive tapped to run the automaker after VW boss Martin Winterkorn resigned in 2015 in the wake of the disclosure of the emissions scheme.
A settlement with the U.S. Justice Department placed an independent monitor at VW for three years to oversee the company’s internal reform effort. The first report by the monitor, Larry Thompson, to the Justice Department was critical of how VW has addressed the fallout of the scandal internally.
In a second letter to Diess, dated April 24, Smith asks Diess for a copy of Thompson’s report, which was not made public.
Smith said the committee remained concerned "that the use of stealth technology to avoid regulations could be used by VW or other companies in the future to deceive regulators in the U.S."
The committee plans to hold a hearing on the use of "advanced technologies to circumvent regulations" in June and requested Diess’ testimony. It also requested documents and other information from Volkswagen related to r&d and technology used to control emissions, as well as current testing data.