The Volkswagen group plead guilty on March 10, 2017 to three criminal charges for its diesel emissions scandal setting it up for a penalty. According to an article in USA Today – The Journal News on March 11, 2017 by Brent Snavely, this will propel Volkswagen’s total cost to the $20 billion mark.
U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox in Detroit accepted the pleas and set down April 21, 2017 for fines. They plead guilty to charges of fraud, obstruction of justice and misrepresenting the capability of vehicles with diesel engines imported into the USA. Judge Cox needed time to review the terms of the settlement which proposes a $4.3 billion fine. Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement worth about $17 billion for U.S. consumers and dealers who own Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles.
Manfred Doess, Volkswagen’s General Counsel acknowledge that Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, willfully and knowingly created software designed to fool government regulators so its diesel engines could pass tougher emission standards adopted in 2007. The software allowed the cars to engage all emissions gears during testing, then turned it off on the open road. This resulted in the Volkswagen engine to spew nitrogen oxide at up to 35 times the legal limit. Doss admitted that Volkswagen’s employees designed software to chat on emissions and some employees destroyed documents after they knew Volkswagen was under investigation. Doess said high level employees were involved but they were “below the level of Volkswagen AG Management Board”.
As part of the plea and fine, Volkswagen agreed to sweeping changes, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years.