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VW pleads guilty to emissions cheating scandal

Ofentse Maphari | 13 March 2017

Popular German automaker Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the emissions cheating scandal on Friday. The saga has been going on since 2015, but has now finally come to an end.

In January, VW agreed to plead guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements and pay $4.3 billion/R56.71 billion to settle charges with the United States. They admitted they had conspired to violate the Clean Air Act by installing so-called defeat devices on diesel-powered cars that evaded emissions standards.

“Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis,” said Volkswagen spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan in a statement.

“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,” she continued.

The settlement that was agreed on with the justice department also requires the  German company to hire an outside compliance monitor for three years. In addition to the guilty plea entered Friday, there is also the agreement to pay $17.5 billion settlement with car owners, dealers and for environmental cleanup.

One aspect of the case that is still unresolved is what exactly is going to happen to the VW executive Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested by US authorities in January. He is one of six company officials charged in the matter. Prosecutors this week rejected defense arguments that Schmidt should be released pending the outcome of his case and described him as a flight risk. The other five charged company officials involved are believed to be in Germany.

In 2015, it was discovered by regulators that Volkswagen diesel cars were marketed as clean but did in fact emit up to 40 times the permissible limits of nitrogen oxide during normal driving.  Eleven million of these vehicles that were configured to cheat emissions tests have been sold worldwide.

The company developed the illegal technology in 2009 and, according to court documents, prosecutors believe senior employees attempted a cover up after learning of the illegal technology in 2015.

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

(Featured Image: engagdeget.com)

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