Senate Finance enters Volkswagen fray

The Senate Finance Committee opened a new front in investigations into Volkswagen on Tuesday, questioning whether the automaker's rigging of emission control systems cost the Treasury millions in wrongly issued subsidies.

Finance Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Utah) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (Ore.), noted that Volkswagen told the IRS that diesel cars thought to have had their emissions systems manipulated were eligible for a tax credit for fuel efficient vehicles.

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The two senators suggested that owners of certain 2009 and 2010 Volkswagen models received well over $50 million in subsidies from a $1,300 per vehicle credit established roughly a decade ago. 

Almost a half million vehicles in all were rigged to wrongly pass emissions tests through "defeat devices" that Volkswagen has admitted to installing.

"This activity raises questions of whether Volkswagen made false representations to the U.S. government in its certification for federal tax subsidies," Hatch and Wyden wrote.

Hatch and Wyden pressed Volkswagen for a wide range of information by the end of the month, including any discussions between the automaker and the Treasury Department over the vehicles and documents asserting to certify the vehicles' eligibility for the tax credit.