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Volkswagen shares fall on report that US government assessing criminal fine

Finished Volkswagen cars arrive at the end of the assembly line prior to a visit by Volkswagen Group Chairman Matthias Mueller and Lower Saxony Governor Stephan Weil at the Volkswagen factory on October 21, 2015 in Wolfsburg, Germany.
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U.S.-listed shares of Volkswagen dropped more than 4 percent in early Tuesday trade after a Bloomberg report said the U.S. Justice Department is assessing how big a criminal fine it can obtain from the German carmaker without putting it out of business.

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Volkswagen has been cheating on American air pollution tests in diesel vehicles issued between 2008 and 2015, which the company later admitted. The Justice Department later filed a civil complaint against it.

The carmaker agreed to pay $16.5 billion in civil litigation fines in the U.S. Now, the U.S. government and Volkswagen are trying to reach a settlement by January, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the negotiations.

The sources said its not clear what the penalty range the government is considering but it is possible the Justice Department may asses the impact of a charge on the business's "viability."

Read the full Bloomberg report here.

Volkswagen's U.S. stock is down about 10 percent so far this year.

Neither Volkswagen nor the Justice Department immediately responded to CNBC's requests for comment.

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