Daily Management Review

In Diesel Emissions Scandal, Volkswagen Pleads Guilty In U.S. Court


03/11/2017




In Diesel Emissions Scandal, Volkswagen Pleads Guilty In U.S. Court
As part of a $4.3 billion settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department in January over the automaker's diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty on Friday to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements.
 
This confession comes as the automaker strives to put the most expensive ever auto industry scandal behind it and a company spokesperson said that it was the first time the company has pleaded guilty to criminal conduct in any court in the world.
 
The company's reputation around the world was damaged, ouster of its chief executive happened and massive bills accumulated as a result of the September 2015 disclosure that VW intentionally cheated on emissions tests for at least six years.
 
VW has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles and to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, the company agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States in total.
 
After he said at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he was authorized by the company's board of directors to enter a guilty plea, Volkswagen's general counsel Manfred Doess made the plea on its behalf.
 
"Your honor, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts," Doess told the court.
 
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox set an April 21 sentencing date, where he must decide whether to approve the terms of the plea agreement after accepting the company's guilty plea to conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction and entry of goods by false statement charges.
 
Along with at least $5,100 per owner in additional compensation, VW has agreed to spend up to $10 billion to buy back diesels that emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.
 
On whether to allow additional restitution for victims, Cox said he was considering a motion made by a lawyer for some owners.
 
"This is a very, very, very serious crime. It is incumbent on me to make a considered decision," Cox said.
 
The automaker has already agreed to significant restitution, the Justice Department and VW have argued.
 
"Volkswagen deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to the diesel crisis. 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," the company said in a statement. "Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 18 months ago."
 
After admitting to installing secret software in 580,000 U.S. vehicles, VW agreed to sweeping reforms, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years under the plea agreement. The software enabled it to emit up to 40 times the legally allowable level of pollution and beat emissions tests over a six-year period.
 
The emissions scheme "was a well thought-out, planned offense that went to the top of the organization," an assistant U.S. attorney, John Neal, told the court. Under sentencing guidelines, VW could have faced $17 billion to $34 billion in fines, he said.
 
(Source:www.rutrs.com)






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