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Volkswagen Pleads Guilty in US Court in Diesel Cheating Scandal

Volkswagen Pleads Guilty in US Court in Diesel Cheating ScandalVolkswagen Pleads Guilty in US Court in Diesel Cheating Scandal

Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty on Friday to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements as part of a $4.3 billion settlement reached with the US Justice Department in January over the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal.

It was the first time the company has pleaded guilty to criminal conduct in any court in the world, a company spokesman said, and comes as the automaker strives to put the most expensive ever auto industry scandal behind it, Reuters reported.

The September 2015 disclosure that VW intentionally cheated on emissions tests for at least six years led to the ouster of its chief executive, damaged the company’s reputation around the world and prompted massive bills.

In total, VW has agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting US vehicles.

Volkswagen’s general counsel Manfred Doess made the plea on its behalf after he said at a hearing in US District Court in Detroit that he was authorized by the company’s board of directors to enter a guilty plea.

“Your honor, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts,” Doess told the court.

US District Judge Sean Cox accepted the company’s guilty plea to conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction and entry of goods by false statement charges and set an April 21 sentencing date, where he must decide whether to approve the terms of the plea agreement.

Investors in VW stock took the news in stride after the expected guilty plea, sending shares up slightly in Germany to close up 0.3% at 143.70 euros.

VW has agreed to spend up to $10 billion to buy back diesels that emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution, along with at least $5,100 per owner in additional compensation.

Cox said he was considering a motion made by a lawyer for some owners on whether to allow additional restitution for victims.

“This a very, very, very serious crime. It is incumbent on me to make a considered decision,” Cox said.

The Justice Department and VW have argued that the automaker has already agreed to significant restitution.

“Volkswagen deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to the diesel crisis. The agreements that we have reached with the US 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.”

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