WASHINGTON, DC: January 12, 2017. Volkswagen AG has been fined a total of US$4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties after pleading guilty to cheating U.S. emissions tests on 590,000 VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles and then lying to cover it up.
In addition, six VW employees have been charged for their roles in the nearly 10-year conspiracy: Heinz-Jakob Neusser, former head of Development; Jens Hadler, former head of Engine Development; Richard Dorenkamp, former head of Engine Development After-Treatment in Wolfsburg, Germany; Bernd Gottweis, former supervisor for Quality Management and Product Safety; Oliver Schmidt, former general manager of VW’s Environment and Engineering Office in Auburn Hills, Michigan; and Jürgen Peter, former member of the VW Quality Management and Product Safety Group and liaison with U.S regulatory agencies.
All the men are charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, defraud U.S. customers, and violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of the company to comply with U.S. emissions requirements.
“When Volkswagen broke the law, EPA (right) stepped in to hold them accountable and address the pollution they caused,” added EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA’s fundamental and indispensable role becomes all too clear when companies evade laws that protect our health. The American public depends on a strong and active EPA to deliver clean air protections, and that is exactly what we have done.”
McCarthy’s comments preface an upcoming U.S. Senate hearing on the nomination by Donald Trump of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the agency. Climate-denier Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 14 times, favors the expansion of America’s fossil fuel industry.
The agreement between VW and the U.S. Department of Justice is in addition to a US$14.7 billion settlement in 2016 relating to VW 2.0 liter cars and a further US$1 billion for 3.0 liter cars.
Meanwhile the EPA has announced that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has also violated the U.S. Clean Air Act by installing and failing to disclose engine management software - auxiliary emission control devices - in Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks sold in the United States.
The EPA said FCA may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief totaling US$4.6 billion for the alleged violations and added it is investigating whether the software constitutes “defeat devices,” which are illegal.
“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said California Air Resources Board head Mary Nichols. “CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”