VW pleads guilty to emissions cheating

VW pleads guilty to emissions cheating

Today, the company finally faced the music in its lawsuit brought on by the US Justice Department and pled guilty to a trio of criminal charges.

Auto giant Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to three charges in the United States in connection with the emissions scandal and will pay a 4.3 billion USA dollar (£3.5 billion) penalty. Other employees who have been charged include the former head of the brand and the former head of engine development, both believed to still be in Germany. One executive, general manager Oliver Schmidt, was charged Monday in Florida for allegedly conspiring to cheat regulations.

Top Volkswagen officials knew about the company's "dieselgate" emissions-cheating software at least a month before they claim to have discovered the scandal, German media reported on Tuesday.

"For years, Volkswagen advertised its vehicles as complying with federal anti-pollution measures, calling them clean diesel", U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters.

Volkswagen's supervisory board is expected to sign a $4.3 billion settlement with USA authorities over the civil and criminal aspects of the diesel cheating scandal, Bloomberg reports.

Volkswagen is admitting that it rigged almost 11 million diesel vehicles world-wide to cheat on emissions tests, including some 600,000 in the U.S. The vehicles produced toxic tailpipe emissions up to 40 times more than allowable limits during normal road use.

All of those executives are German nationals and five of them are now in Germany, Lynch said.

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Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, speaking at the DOJ's press conference, said that VW Group executives were largely responsible for the scandal, describing a company culture where "lower-level people" expressed concerns and "higher-level people" made a decision to move forward with planting the illegal software.

The settlements and penalties emanate from Volkswagen's admission in September 2015 that it had installed secret software in vehicles to make them appear cleaner in emissions tests than they actually were.

Earlier this week, Schmidt was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation while vacationing in Miami.

About 11 million vehicles worldwide were equipped with the software.

Volkswagen agreed to pay as much as $10 billion to buy back or fix vehicles involved in the scandal and to pay almost $5 billion in environmental remediation.

The scandal flared up in 2015 when the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation against the automaker. One of the executives named in the case overseas more than 10,000 employees, she said.

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