Volkswagen fined $2.8bn in United States diesel emission scandal

Posted April 22, 2017

Federal Judge Sean Cox has ordered the German automaker to pay $2.8 billion in criminal penalties.

As well as accepting the agreement reached between VW and the USA government, Cox rejected separate calls from lawyers representing individual VW customers for restitution.

Volkswagen admits that almost 600,000 diesel cars in the U.S. were programmed to turn on pollution controls during testing and off while on the road.

Even so, Cox overruled several objections to the plea agreement from lawyers representing consumers who wanted to pursue criminal restitution from the courts and agreed with federal prosecutors who argued that a better remedy was already available through civil settlements to which the automaker has already agreed.

In his ruling on Friday, Judge Cox said, "I can't believe the VW is in this situation that it finds itself in today".

In addition to the criminal penalty, which it agreed to under the plea agreement, VW will pay a separate $1.5 billion civil penalty. "This is a very serious and very troubling case involving an iconic automobile company", Cox added. The German automaker pleaded guilty conspiracy to defraud the United States and its customers in the country and to violate the Clean Air Act using cheating software to circumvent emission testing; and obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme.

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"Plain and simple, it was wrong. We let people down and for that we are deeply sorry", Doess said.

The fine pushes the financial cost of the scandal to Volkswagen for just court penalties and vehicle buybacks past $15 billion.

Five other company officials charged in January are believed to be in Germany.

Separately, an engineer who pleaded guilty to criminal conduct for helping Volkswagen cheat on emissions tests, James Liang, is scheduled to be sentenced in May.

One aspect of the case that remains unresolved is the fate of VW executive Oliver Schmidt who United States authorities arrested in Miami in January, one of seven company employees who have been charged.

One of them, Oliver Schmidt, the former head of Volkswagen's environmental compliance office in MI, was arrested in January at Miami International Airport before boarding a plane to Germany. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges.