Washington — Volkswagen of America confirmed Wednesday it has hired Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis in connection with the government's probe into 482,000 diesel cars that purposely evaded pollution rules.

It comes as German securities regulatory officials said Wednesday that have opened a probe into whether VW properly disclosed the risks to shareholders and whether there was any improper trading in VW shares. The stock fell 35 percent over the last two days — as VW shed $26 billion in market value in the first two trading days this week.

Kirkland has had a prominent role in defending major corporations accused of wrongdoing, including BP in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and Merck.

VW said it has set aside $7.3 billion to address the issue that has expanded to 11 million vehicles worldwide. VW has vowed an external probe but wouldn't confirm if Kirkland will lead the probe.

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