Volkswagen (VW) AG has been sentenced to three years’ probation because it cheated on emissions tests for at six years. Last month, it pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction or justice as well as falsifying statements. This probation is part of the $4.3 billion settlement announced at the start of the year.
The company will be overseen by an independent monitor for a duration of three years.
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, said, “This is a case of deliberate and massive fraud. This is a very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company. I just can’t believe VW is in the situation it finds itself in today.”
The scandal led to massive fines, pay-outs, worldwide damage to VW’s reputation and brand as well as the ouster of its chief executive, Martin Winterkorn.
Cox said, “This case also involves a failure of the VW supervisory board, which is government, labor, and shareholders. This corporate greed, this failure of management has cost VW billions and billions of dollars. The individuals who will be hurt the most are the working men and women at VW who likely will not get bonuses or raises because of the financial burden caused by actions of higher ranking company officials.”
According to Jack Ewing, author of Faster, Higher, Farther, VW employees at Volkswagen and Audi destroyed thousands of documents and emails before admitting its crime to regulators.
The company admitted to having installed software in 580,000 U.S. vehicles. This allowed them to trick emission testers into believing that the engines were emitting less pollution into the air. According to regulators, the company in normal driving were emitting up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide beyond the legal limit.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found discrepancies in VW’s four-cylinder diesel vehicles which includes the Audi A3, Passat, Beetle, Jetta, and Golf.
Manfred Doess, general counsel for VW, said the company “deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to this case. This conduct was not consistent with the values of this company and plan and simple it was wrong. We let people down, and for that, we are deeply sorry. Volkswagen today is not the same company that it was 18 months ago.”
VW has agreed to fork out $25 billion in America to cater to claims from environmental regulators, states, dealers, owners and to allow itself to make buy-back offers.
Jason Weinstein, Volkswagen attorney, described the criminal fine as “an appropriate and serious sanction.”
Cox has urged the German authorities to “prosecute those responsible for this deliberate massive fraud that has damaged an iconic automobile company.”
Oliver Schmidt is a former VW executive responsible for the company to comply with U.S. emissions regulations. He is charged with fraud and violation of the Clean Air Act and faces up to 20 years being behind bars because of the fraud charges.
Volkswagen Group is the largest carmaker globally. It owns and maintains the following brands: Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Skoda.