Volkswagen and the USA government are asking a judge to approve a United States dollars 2.8 billion criminal penalty against the automaker for cheating on diesel emissions tests.
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox is holding a hearing in Detroit Friday, where he is expected to sentence the world's largest automaker to three years' probation as part of a $4.3 billion settlement announced in January. "I just can't believe VW is in the situation it finds itself in today."As well as accepting the agreement reached between VW and the US government, Cox rejected separate calls from lawyers representing individual VW customers for restitution".
Regulators in 2015 discovered that Volkswagen diesel cars, marketed as clean, in fact spewed up to 40 times the permissible limits of nitrogen oxide during normal driving, but this was hidden during emissions testing.
Even so, Cox overruled several objections to the plea agreement from lawyers representing consumers who wanted to pursue criminal restitution from the courts and agreed with federal prosecutors who argued that a better remedy was already available through civil settlements to which the automaker has already agreed.
Cox urged the German government to "prosecute those responsible for this deliberate massive fraud that has damaged an iconic automobile company".
Separately, VW is paying $1.5 billion in a civil case, mostly to settle allegations brought by US environmental regulators, and spending $11 billion to buy back cars and offer other compensation. "Plain and simple it was wrong", Doess said.
With the criminal fine, Volkswagen's legal settlements stemming from its emissions fraud could exceed $25 billion in the US alone depending on how many vehicles the auto maker is forced to repurchase. Volkswagen pleaded guilty in March to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements after admitting to installing secret software in 580,000 USA vehicles. "We let people down and for that we're deeply sorry".
The U.S. Justice Department has charged seven current and former VW executives with crimes related to the scandal.
Speaking on behalf of Volkswagen, general counsel Manfred Doess said the company "deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to this case". He faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges.