* Renault shares fall on news of probe
* Three judges looking into matter
(Adds analyst comment, further details and background)
By Simon Carraud and Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS, Jan 13 French prosecutors are
investigating Renault over suspected cheating on
vehicle exhaust emissions, a source at the Paris prosecutor's
office told Reuters on Friday, sending shares in the automaker
The probe follows the Volkswagen diesel
emissions scandal, which emerged in September 2015.
VW this week agreed to pay $4.3 billion in a settlement with
U.S. regulators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on
Thursday accused Fiat Chrysler of also using software
to conceal excess diesel emissions.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne rejected the
allegations, saying there was no wrongdoing and the company
never attempted to create software to cheat emissions rules by
detecting when the vehicle was in test mode.
Three judges have been looking into the Renault matter, the
source said. Whether the prosecutor's inquiry is followed by a
trial is for the judges to decide.
They are focused on the public health implications of
Renault's actions, the source told Reuters.
Renault said it respected all laws concerning exhaust
emissions and added that its vehicles did not have software
allowing it to commit fraud in this area.
The opening of the judicial probe comes two months after the
government passed findings of an investigation by consumer fraud
agency DGCCRF to the prosecutor's office.
Renault shares fell 4 percent on Friday but had clawed back
some ground, trading down 2.4 percent by mid-session versus a
0.5 percent rise on the STOXX Europe 600 Automobiles index
Inquiries into diesel emissions will impact automotive
stocks in the near term and provide a reason to "short" such
stocks, betting on declines in their price, said Terry Torrison,
managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.
"The car sector had a good run-up last year, but it's a
sector that I'm now negative about. Every regulator seems to
have a bee in their bonnet about diesel emissions. This story is
not going to go away any time soon," Torrison said.
(Reporting by Simon Carraud, Gilles Guillaume and Sudip
Kar-Gupta; editing by Jason Neely and Keith Weir)