Volkswagen to pay $2.8 billion in USA diesel emission scandal

Robyn Valdez
April 22, 2017

During the sentencing hearing, the court accepted the parties' plea agreement, which requires VW to pay a $2.8 billion penalty stemming from the company's decade-long scheme to sell diesel vehicles containing software created to cheat us emissions tests.

Federal Judge Sean Cox held a hearing Friday in Detroit, six weeks after the German automaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The judge wanted more time to consider the plea deal and fine negotiated by VW and the US Justice Department.

Birmingham attorney Craig Hilborn asked Cox to reject the government's plea deal because it did not include any court-ordered restitution for victims and did not charge Volkswagen Group of America with a crime.

The carmaker has admitted to programming its diesel cars to trick emissions testers into believing the engines released far less pollution into the air than they actually do, in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

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Seven employees have also been charged in relation to the scandal.

Volkswagen, now the world's largest automaker, could have been fined anywhere from $17 billion to $34 billion under USA law but was said to be cooperative, engaged - save for a few executives and workers who obstructed the investigation - and actively correcting its corporate culture.

The public scandal around Volkswagen arouse in September 2015, when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the company of using software to falsify emission test results for its diesel-engine cars.

Before Cox imposed his sentence Manfred Doess, the automaker's general counsel, again appeared on behalf of the world's largest automaker to apologize and vowed that the company's corporate culture is changing.

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USA regulators confronted VW about the cheating software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide. He added, Plain and simple it was wrong.

One, Oliver Schmidt, is in custody in federal prison in Milan awaiting trial.

"The agreements that we have reached with the USA government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear", the statement said, in part. "Volkswagen today is not the same company that it was 18 months ago".

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