On Wednesday, Volkswagen announced that it will to plead guilty to three felonies as part of its settlement with the US government stemming from the company’s emissions cheating scandal.
In addition to the guilty pleas, VW will pay penalties and fines totaling $4.3 billion as well as “strengthen its compliance and control systems, including the appointment of an independent monitor for a period of three years.”
“Volkswagen’s attempts to dodge emissions standards and import falsely certified vehicles into the country represent an egregious violation of our nation’s environmental, consumer protection and financial laws,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
“Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to defending consumers, protecting our environment and our financial system and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing.”
Volkswagen Group sold roughly 590,000 four — and six — cylinder diesel vehicles over the past decade equipped with software — called defeat devices — designed to cheat emissions tests.
According to the DOJ Volkswagen is charged with and has agreed to plead guilty to:
“…Participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and VW’s U.S. customers and to violate the Clean Air Act by lying and misleading the EPA and U.S. customers about whether certain VW, Audi and Porsche branded diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards, using cheating software to circumvent the U.S. testing process and concealing material facts about its cheating from U.S. regulators. VW is also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme, and with a separate crime of importing these cars into the U.S. by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits.”
As a result, VW will spend three years on probation during which time the company will be subject to an independent corporate compliance monitor, and fully cooperate with the DOJ’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of individuals involved in the scandal.
The $4.3 billion payout includes a $2.8 billion criminal penalty, $1.45 billion to resolve federal environmental and customs related civil claims, and $50 million to pay a civil penalty to the DOJ.
In a statement, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller apologised for his company’s actions.
“Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis. Since all of this came to light, we have worked tirelessly to make things right for our affected customers and have already achieved some progress on this path. The agreements that we have reached with the U.S. government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. They are an important step forward for our company and all our employees.”