Volkswagen Group pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court here to three felonies under a plea agreement: conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introducing imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statements. VW’s legal peril with the U.S. government may be over, but its buybacks continue, as does civil ligation in the U.S. and criminal investigations elsewhere around the globe, including in its German homeland.
The guilty pleas accepted by District Judge Sean Cox settle claims by the EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for VW’s importation of almost 590,000 turbodiesel vehicles that violated clean air regulations. However, the judge said at the end of an 70 minute hearing that he wanted more time to consider the settlement’s $4.3 billion in fines and other actions given the “serious nature” of the crimes.
The settlement, first announced in January, calls for VW to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and for the automaker to continue to fully cooperate with federal and state investigators. The settlement also would subject VW to an independent monitor for at least three years as well as a number of other consolations to ensure that it will comply with the law in the future.
VW had completed 137,985 closings and paid out $2.89 billion to owners and current lea6ssees
VW is processing about 15,000 closings per week and is expected to continue the pace “for the foreseeable future,” according to the latest report filed by the independent claims supervisor.
As part of the plea agreement, VW must “fully cooperate” with ongoing investigations. So far, the U.S. Justice Department says, the automaker is doing so.
In the plea agreement released in January, the government says VW has already “gather
The government also credited VW for recovering numerous documents that were deleted by employees after VW’s emissions cheating was discovered in 2014. It also credited VW for improving its whistleblower system in the wake of the scandal and for making other changes to its corporate structure to better guard against a similar scandal in the future.
The automaker will hold its annual press conference next week in its home in Wolfsburg, Germany, where top executives are expected to comment more fully on the ongoing scandal.