Volkswagen confirmed on January 12, 2017 that the company has pleaded guilty to charges levied against the company by the United States Government after the emissions scandal of 2015. The automobile mega corporation stated in a financial disclosure that they will shell out close to $4.3 billion in civil and criminal fines.
Volkswagen came under fire in 2015 for programming cars to recognize when they are being tested, thus influencing the estimated emissions of the models. A study by West Virginia University revealed that these discrepancies began in 2014, when it was noticed that Volkswagen automobiles emitted more pollutions on the road than in emissions tests.
The car manufacturing company will plead guilty to charges that include violating the US Clean Air Act, wire fraud and obstruction of justice, bringing the entire cost of the scandal in the United States alone to $20 billion. The company had previously paid $14 billion in a civil settlement, out of which $10.2 billion were intended to compensate the 500,000 individuals who bought the reprogrammed cars. This announcement is the latest in a number of recent incidents where large corporations have evaded criminal charges by settling on an exorbitant fee. Other companies to have recently made similar payouts include JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank.
The announcement of the deal negotiated by Volkswagen comes just days after the arrest of a senior Volkswagen executive, Oliver Schmidt, in Florida. Oliver Schmidt was a former Emissions Compliance Manager of the company and was instrumental in supplying false information to California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Sources : The New York Times, The Telegraph