VW admits guilt in emissions scandal as US indicts six

Volkswagen will admit guilt and pay 4.3 billion dollars in criminal and civil settlements to the US government over the German carmaker's cheating on diesel emissions, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday.

"Today's actions reflect the Justice Department's steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, to protecting the environment and our financial system, and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing," Lynch said.

She also announced the indictment of six current and former high-ranking Volkswagen personnel for crimes including conspiracy to defraud the US, violations of environmental laws, and wire fraud.

VW will pay a 2.8-billion-dollar criminal fine and plead guilty to three criminal felony counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States and US customers and violate environmental laws; obstructing justice by destroying scandal-related documents; and importing cars using false statements.

Under the settlement terms VW will also pay 1.5 billion dollars to resolve civil claims of violation of environmental, customs and financial laws.

VW will be placed on three years' probation, pay for independent ethics and compliance monitoring and cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the individuals responsible for these crimes.

An outline of the deal had been revealed by the carmaker on Tuesday. In a statement Wednesday, VW chief executive Matthias Mueller called the deal an "important step forward for our company and all our employees."

"Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis. We will continue to press forward with changes to our way of thinking and working," he said.

The deal settles VW's corporate criminal responsibility, Lynch said, but the investigation into individuals responsible for the crimes remains ongoing.

One of the indicted employees, an executive who oversaw US environmental compliance, was in court Monday in Miami after his arrest January 7.

The remaining five are believed to reside in Germany, the Justice Department said.

Another VW engineer is awaiting sentencing in the case after pleading guilty in US federal court to conspiracy.

"Individuals are being charged to show that serious crimes have serious consequences - both for the company and for the managers who cheat," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

"Our laws have teeth," she added.

Since admitting to installing emissions-cheating software in its vehicles in September 2015, Europe's largest carmaker has been in talks with customers and governments over compensation and damages for the software, which was installed on 11 million cars worldwide.

Volkswagen reached a deal in mid-2016 to compensate owners of 475,000 cars in the United States with 2-litre diesel engines. That agreement could cost VW 16.5 billion dollars.

The outlines of a similar settlement with owners of about 80,000 cars in the US with larger diesel engines were announced last month.

Last update: Thu, 12/01/2017 - 00:28
Author: 

View the discussion thread.

More from Business

Tobacco giant BAT agrees to 49-billion-dollar takeover of US rival

British American Tobacco Plc on Tuesday said it has finalized a deal to acquire 57.8 per cent of shares of US rival...

IMF raises China growth forecast, but warns of sharper slowdown

China's economy will expand by 6.5 per cent this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, as it warned...

Trump's warning to German carmakers hits shares

Shares in German carmakers tumbled on Monday after incoming US president Donald Trump threatened the industry with...

Report: Ex-Volkswagen head knew about scandal two months before

Former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn knew about the company's emissions scandal two months earlier...

Takata to pay 1-billion-dollar criminal fine over defective airbags

Beleaguered Japanese car-parts supplier Takata has agreed to pay a criminal penalty of 1 billion dollars, and three...