Volkswagen pleads guilty in US court to diesel emissions scandal
The Dollar Business Bureau
Volkswagen AG on Friday pleaded guilty on criminal conduct for its diesel emissions scandal and agreed to settle all the claims and charges imposed by the buyers and the US Department of Justice. The sentencing date has been set as on April 21.
In January, Volkswagen had agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement for its involvement in cheating on emission tests for at least six years by installing devices on its diesel-powered cars to evade emissions standards. The company had installed secret software in 580,000 US vehicles.
A company spokesman said it was the first time Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to criminal charges. The scandal resulted in the ouster of its chief executive, tarnished the company's reputation and attracted massive bills.
Volkswagen is now willing to spend up to $25 billion in the US to address claims from owners, states and dealers, environmental regulators and has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting US vehicles, as one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers envisages recreating its reputation and thus a large customer base.
Volkswagen's general counsel Manfred Doess told the US District Court in Detroit, "Your honour, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts."
The German carmaker has expressed its commitment to spend up to $10 billion to buy back diesel vehicles emitting up to 40 times legally allowable pollution, as well as at least $5,100 per car owner in additional compensation.
VW also agreed to spend nearly $3 billion to offset excess emissions and make $2 billion in investments in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and awareness programs over a decade.
"Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis. The agreements that we have reached with the U.S. government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 18 months ago," the company said in a statement.
However, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service and some US states continue to investigate Volkswagen for its crime.
The German automaker has not yet resumed started selling diesel vehicles, after it stopped sales of new US diesels in late 2015.