Business this week
The Volkswagen scandal rumbled on. Prosecutors in Germany expanded the number of employees at the car maker who are under investigation to 17. But they have yet to find firm evidence that senior executives had knowledge of the rigged software in diesel cars that yielded false readings in emissions tests. In France authorities opened a formal inquiry into “aggravated fraud”. VW's chief in America, Michael Horn, resigned. Matthias Muller, VW's chief executive, warned of “substantial and painful” ?nancial damage at the company because of the scandal.
Under pressure to hand over more tax in Britain, Facebook reportedly told its larger British advertisers to pay it via its UK subsidiary rather than through its office in lower-tax Ireland. Earlier it was revealed that in 2014 Facebook paid just 4,300 in corporate tax; the next year British tax authorities paid the social-network company 27,000 ($44,000) to place ads reminding people about tax commitments.
Chevron announced additional cuts to its capital-spending plans on top of the ones it outlined last December. Like its rivals, the oil giant has been hurt by the prolonged fall in oil prices. The further reduction in spending should shore up its dividend to shareholders, which it has paid out continuously since 1926.
Oil prices have been rallying recently, however. Brent crude rose above $40 a barrel for the first time since early December and at mid-week was priced 47% higher than the 13-year low it had sunk to in mid-January. The price has risen in part because oil production in America, where output from shale fields has boomed in recent years, is dropping. The price of iron ore soared by record amounts after Chinese officials said they would do what it takes to boost growth?
The prospect of building Hinkley Point C, a proposed nuclear-power plant in Britain, was thrown into turmoil after the chief financial occer of Electricite de France, which is to build Hinkley, quit over concerns that the project threatened EDF's future. At 18 billion ($25 billion), Hinkley would be the most expensive power plant in history.