WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Volkswagen's "Clean Diesel" advertising claims amount to a fraud. The examination adds a new avenue to punish the German automaker for its emissions-rigging deception.
FTC spokesman Justin Cole declined to comment Friday beyond confirming coordination with other federal agencies conducting a criminal probe into VW's use of a "defeat device" to hide illegally high emissions of smog-causing gases.
While the FTC can't send anyone to jail, it has authority to protect consumers and impose wide-ranging penalties. Those could potentially include paying cash restitution to the affected car owners and forcing VW to buy new national ads admitting the company lied to its customers.
VW hastily withdrew its "Clean Diesel" ads last month following the company's admission it had cheated on U.S. emissions tests.