Volkswagen Pleads Guilty
On January 11, 2017, the United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, announced that Volkswagen had pled guilty to multiple criminal charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of justice, and introduction of imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statements. By pleading guilty to these charges, Volkswagen is exposed to criminal and civil penalties and has agreed to pay a combined total of $4.3 Billion, to accept a term of organizational probation for a period of three years, and to appoint an independent monitor for a period of up to three years who will implement an effective compliance program.
Attorney General Lynch characterized Volkswagen’s actions as an egregious violation of “our Nation’s environmental, consumer protection, and financial laws…they obfuscated, denied and ultimately lied.” In response to questions from reporters, Attorney General Lynch stated that “I don’t want to speculate on motivations other than the profit motive”. Assistant Attorney General Caldwell added that “the level of premeditation was significant and here it was at a very high level of the company.”
This criminal plea agreement is the result of a sixteen-month criminal investigation, which is still ongoing. Also, six Volkswagen executives have been indicted in this case including Oliver Schmidt, a German executive arrested while vacationing in Miami.
In the plea agreement Volkswagen admits to developing and installing a “defeat device” in its diesel vehicles, failing to disclose the existence of this “defeat device”, and marketing the vehicles in the United States as clean and environmentally friendly, knowing that they were not. To read the complete plea agreement click here.