Sun, Apr 23, 2017 - Page 16 News List

US judge sentences VW to probation, oversight

Reuters, DETROIT, Michigan

A federal judge in Detroit on Friday sentenced Volkswagen AG (VW) to three years’ probation and independent oversight for the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal as part of a US$4.3 billion settlement announced in January.

The plea agreement called for “organization probation,” in which the company would be overseen by an independent monitor.

MOVING ON

The sentencing was one of the last major hurdles to Volkswagen moving past a scandal that led to the ousting of its chief executive officer and tarnished the company’s reputation worldwide.

“This is a case of deliberate and massive fraud,” US District Judge Sean Cox said in approving the settlement that required the automaker to make significant reforms.

He also formally approved a US$2.8 billion criminal fine as part of the sentence.

As well as accepting the agreement reached between Volkswagen and the US government, Cox rejected separate calls from lawyers representing individual Volkswagen customers for restitution.

MAKING RESTITUTIONS

The German automaker last month pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements after admitting to installing secret software in 580,000 US vehicles.

Since the September 2015 disclosure that it intentionally cheated on emissions tests for at least six years, the company has agreed to spend up to US$25 billion in the US to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and to make buyback offers.

Speaking on behalf of Volkswagen, general counsel Manfred Doess said the company “deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to this case. Plain and simple, it was wrong.”

The US Department of Justice on Friday announced that it had selected former deputy US attorney general Larry Thompson to serve as the company’s independent monitor.

EXECS ON TRIAL

The department has charged seven current and former Volkswagen executives with crimes related to the scandal. One executive is in custody and awaiting trial and another pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.

US prosecutors in January said that five of the seven are believed to be in Germany.

They have not been arraigned.

German prosecutors also are conducting a criminal probe of Volkswagen’s excess diesel emissions.

“We have worked tirelessly to address the misconduct that took place within our company and make things right for our affected customers,” the company said in a statement on Friday. “Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 19 months ago.”

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