VW pleads guilty to United States criminal charges, pays $4.3 bn in 'dieselgate'

Alicia WestJan 12, 2017

VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software in hundreds of thousands of US diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they were on the road, and that as many as 11 million vehicles could have similar software installed worldwide.

On Monday, Oliver Schmidt was arraigned in a court in Miami following his arrest upon visiting the country.

The U.S. can charge individuals in Germany, but getting executives to stand trial in the U.S. could be hard because Germany's constitution bars extradition of German nationals to foreign countries other than European Union members. All are charged with "conspiracy to defraud the United States, defraud VW's USA customers and violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations".

In addition, the company has agreed to pay $1.5 billion in civil penalties to resolve a variety of environmental, customs, and financial claims.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and other officials will "announce criminal and civil resolutions with Volkswagen", the government said in a joint statement.

High-level officials were aware of the fraud and "deliberately" chose to continue it, Lynch said.

The settlement requires the German automaker to cooperate with the Justice Department on its ongoing prosectors of the executives.

More as we have it.

In a statement, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller apologized for his company's actions. "They are an important step forward for our company and all our employees".

The 48-year-old Schmidt was the automaker's liaison with USA environmental regulators.

The top officials involved include Oliver Schmidt, who was in charge of Volkswagen's USA environmental regulatory compliance office from 2012 until March 2015.

In the autumn of 2006, some "lower-level" engineers objected to using the defeat device and elevated the issue to another supervisor.

She also said the size of the penalty, the largest ever for a auto company in USA history, reflects the unusual level of premeditation of wrongdoing at high levels of Volkswagen.

Despite the scandal, VW Group - which includes the brands Audi (IOB: 0FG8.IL - news), Porsche and Skoda - said on Tuesday it had sold a new record 10.3 million cars worldwide previous year.

Check back with MLive for more details following the press conference on the charges and settlement.

"In the days ahead, we will continue to examine Volkswagen's attempts to mislead consumers and deceive the government".

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