The French car maker Renault was forced to deny todaya report in the French daily Liberationthat its vehicles are equipped with software thatallowed its vehicles to cheat on emissions testing.

Liberationclaimed to have obtained an investigative document from the Economy Ministry indicating that emissions from two models _ the Renault Captur and the ClioBSE 4.76 % IV _ spewed emissions more than 300 percent higher than the legal limit in real-life conditions.

The paper said that it had consulted documents from France’s Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) which concluded that“the company used a strategy aimed at distorting the results of antipollution tests.”

“Important differences between the performance of certain Renault engines in the laboratory and their results under real conditions,” were found, the paper said, adding theaccusation forms the cornerstone of an investigation reportedly opened by French prosecutors in January.

The ministry’s fraud department handed its findings to prosecutors in November.

French authorities raided Renault premises after Volkswagen was found to have used software to cheat on U.S. diesel emissions tests. Renault recalled 15,000 cars last year over excessive levels of harmful gases, but the company insisted there was nointentional wrongdoing.

Renault SAshares fell sharply Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in a parallel developmentGerman prosecutors searched today Audi’s two biggest plants and other sites in connection with the emissions scandal still rocking parent Volkswagen,adding to pressure on the luxury division and its Chief Executive Rupert Stadler.

The raids, the first at Audi since VW’s diesel scandal broke18 months ago, centered on who was involved in the use ofany illicit software used in 80,000 VW, Audi and Porschecars with bigger 3.0 liter engines that were found to exceedU.S. emissions limits.

Volkswagen has already agreed to pay more than $1 billionto fix or buy back the 80,000 cars as part of an overall U.S.settlement expected to cost the group as much as $17.5billion.

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