VW CEO: Hopeful for deal with U.S. authorities by end of the year

By By Ilona Wissenbach Features Reuters

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller delivers his speech at the annual shareholder meeting in Hanover, Germany June 22, 2016. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer (Copyright Reuters 2016)

Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said on Wednesday he is hopeful the German automaker can reach agreement by the end of the year with the U.S. government on the size of a fine to settle a criminal investigation of the company's alleged violations of U.S. clean air laws.

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Mueller, speaking on the sidelines of the Paris auto show, said he also sees ���good progress��� toward an agreement with U.S. regulators that could allow Volkswagen to repair certain 3.0 liter diesel engines that emit more pollutants than U.S. law allows.

Speculation that the U.S. Justice Department will demand a multibillion-dollar fine to settle a criminal investigation of the automaker's use of illegal software to deceive U.S. environmental regulators sent Volkswagen shares into a tailspin earlier this week.

Mueller told reporters "we have been in a constructive dialogue with authorities in Germany, in Europe and the U.S. for the past 12 months," and said he hopes to know the results of all the investigations "in the foreseeable future."

VW in June agreed to pay up to $15.3 billion to resolve civil litigation related to the emissions cheating. The company agreed to buy back vehicles if they could not be repaired as required by U.S. and California regulators, and to fund projects such as expanded electric vehicle charging networks.

Mueller said he is concerned about the size of potential additional fines. "The settlement that we have ... reached with the civil authorities isn't cheap," he said. "We have made provisions for everything that we believe we will have to face, including fines, environmental projects, compensation to the people ... We will have to see if that's enough or not."

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(Editing by Joseph White and Matthew Lewis)