Skip to main content

United States v. Volkswagen


Volkswagen Diesel Engine Vehicle Matters
Court Docket No. 2:16-cr-20394 (E.D. Michigan)

Court Assigned: This case is assigned to Judge Sean Cox, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, at the United States Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226.

Click here for the latest update.

United States v. Volkswagen: On January 11, 2017, Volkswagen AG (VW) was charged by criminal information with conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud, and to violate the Clean Air Act; obstruction of justice; and entry of goods by false statements. The charges arise from the company’s long-running scheme to sell approximately 590,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. by using a defeat device to cheat on emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, and lying and obstructing justice to further the scheme. In particular, from approximately May 2006 to approximately November 2015, VW allegedly agreed to deceive U.S. regulators and U.S. customers about whether certain vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards. The vehicles at issue include:

  • 2.0 Liter Diesel Engine Vehicles:
    • Mode Year (MY) 2009-2015 VW Jetta;
    • MY 2009-2014 VW Jetta Sportwagen;
    • MY 2010-2015 VW Golf;
    • MY 2015 Golf Sportwagen;
    • MY 2010-2013, 2015 Audi A3;
    • MY 2013-2015 VW Beetle and VW Beetle Convertible; and
    • MY 2012-2015 VW Passat
  • 3.0 Liter Diesel Engine Vehicles:
    • MY 2009-2016 VW Touareg;
    • MY 2009-2015 Audi Q7;
    • MY 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro;
    • MY 2014-2016 Audi A7 Quattro;
    • MY 2014-2016 Audi A8L; and
    • MY 2014-2016 Audi Q5
  • MY 2013-2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Vehicles

VW has agreed to plead guilty to these charges and pay a $2.8 billion penalty. Under the terms of the plea agreement, which must be reviewed and accepted by the court, VW agrees to fully cooperate in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of individuals responsible for these crimes, be on probation for three years, and be under an independent corporate compliance monitor who will oversee the company for at least three years.

The government is not seeking restitution in this case since “the number of identifiable victims is so large as to make restitution impracticable” and/or “determining complex issues of fact related to the cause or amount of victims’ losses would complicate or prolong the sentencing process to a degree that the need to provide restitution to any victim is outweighed by the burden on the sentencing process.” See Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act (18 U.S.C. § 3663A(c)(3)). However, VW has entered into settlements in the civil litigation captioned In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 3:15-md-2672 (N.D. Cal.), which will result in compensation to victims of the underlying criminal conduct that is the subject of the plea agreement.

United States v. Richard Dorenkamp et al.: Six VW executives were also indicted on January 11, 2017, in connection with the emissions fraud scheme. Richard Dorenkamp, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jens Hadler, Bernd Gottweis, Oliver Schmidt, and Jürgen Peter have been charged in a second superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud, and to violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW’s supposedly “clean diesel” vehicles to comply with U.S. emissions requirements. The indictment also charges Dorenkamp, Neusser, Schmidt, and Peter with Clean Air Act violations, and charges Neusser, Gottweis, Schmidt, and Peter with substantive wire fraud counts. Schmidt was arrested by complaint on January 7, 2017; the other defendants reside in Germany.

Update – Martin Winterkorn: On May 3, 2018, a fifth superseding indictment was unsealed adding charges against Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive officer and management board chairman of VW AG. The fifth superseding indictment charges: Dorenkamp, Neusser, Hadler, Gottweis, Peter, and Winterkorn with conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud, and to violate the Clean Air Act; Dorenkamp, Neusser, and Peter with substantive counts of violations of the Clean Air Act; and Neusser, Gottweis, Peter, and Winterkorn with substantive counts of wire fraud.

For more information about the VW and Dorenkamp et al. charges, please see below:
Press Release – January 11, 2017
Press Release – May 3, 2018
VW Criminal Third Superseding Information
VW Plea Agreement
Dorenkamp, et al. Second Superseding Indictment
Winterkorn, et al. Fifth Superseding Indictment

United States v. James Liang: On September 9, 2016, James Robert Liang, a VW engineer, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud, and to violate the Clean Air Act for his role in the emissions fraud. He was indicted under seal on June 1, 2016.

For more information about the Liang charges, please see below:
Liang Press Release
Liang Indictment
Liang Plea Agreement

United States v. Giovanni Pamio: On July 6, 2017 Giovanni Pamio, formerly the head of Thermodynamics within Audi’s Diesel Engine Development Department in Neckarsulm, Germany, was charged by complaint for his role in the long-running conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and customers by implementing software specifically designed to cheat U.S. emissions tests in thousands of Audi “clean diesel” vehicles. Specifically, Mr. Pamio was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, and violation of the Clean Air Act.

For more information about the Pamio charges, please see below:
Pamio Press Release
Pamio Complaint

United States v. IAV GMBH: On December 18, 2018, IAV GmbH, a German company that engineers and designs automotive systems, was charged by criminal information with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and VW’s U.S. customers and to violate the Clean Air Act by misleading the EPA and U.S. customers about whether certain VW- and Audi-branded diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards. The company has also agreed to pay a $35 million criminal penalty as a result of the company’s role in a long-running scheme with Volkswagen AG. IAV and its co-conspirator knew the vehicles did not meet U.S. emissions standards and worked collaboratively to design, test, and implement cheating software to cheat the U.S. testing process.  The Plea Agreement still must be accepted by the court, which has scheduled a plea hearing for January 18, 2019 at 9:30 AM.  The hearing will be before District Court Judge Sean Cox.

For more information about the IAV charges and guilty plea, please see below:
IAV Press Release
IAV Plea Agreement
IAV Information

Victim Impact Statement: If you would like to submit a Victim Impact Statement you may do so by mailing the attached Victim Impact Statement so that it is received no later than February 1, 2019 to: Richard J. Rogala, United States Probation Department, Theodore Levin United States Courthouse, 231 West Lafayette, Detroit, Michigan 48226.

Victim Impact Statement (PDF)
Victim Impact Statement (Fillable PDF)

The information on this website will be updated as new developments arise in the case. If you have any questions, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at

Presumption of Innocence: It is important to keep in mind that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that presumption requires both the court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served.

Crime Victims’ Rights Act and Right to Retain Counsel: The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) applies only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus individuals may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which the individual is a victim was not charged. Section 377I(c)(2) of this Act requires that we advise you that you have the right to retain counsel. Although the statute specifically sets forth your right to seek advice of an attorney with regard to your rights under the statute, there is no requirement that you retain counsel. The Government may not recommend any specific counsel, nor can the Government (or the Court) pay for counsel to represent you. Government attorneys represent the United States.

If you elect to obtain counsel to represent your interests, please have your attorney notify this office in writing at: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20530, Attention: Victim Witness Unit; fax: (202) 514-3708; or email: If you elect not to retain counsel to represent your interests, you do not need to do anything.

Plea Agreements: Please be aware that many criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement between the Department of Justice and the defendant. You should also know that it is not unusual for a defendant to seek to negotiate a plea agreement shortly before trial is scheduled to begin. Plea agreements can be made at any time and as late as the morning of trial, leaving little or no opportunity to provide notice to you of the date and time of the plea hearing. If the court schedules a plea hearing in this case, we will use our best efforts to notify you of available information as soon as practicable. If you want to inform the prosecutor of your views regarding potential plea agreements, or any other aspect of the case, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at, and we will put you in touch with the prosecutor.

Updated September 27, 2023