Volkswagen AG Pleads Guilty in Connection with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests
Volkswagen AG (VW) pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit today to three felony counts charging: (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, engage in wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act; (2) obstruction of justice; and (3) importation of merchandise by means of false statements. As part of the plea, VW agreed to pay a $2.8 billion penalty as a result of the company’s decade-long scheme to sell diesel vehicles containing software designed to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. In January 2017, VW had agreed to plead guilty to resolve these criminal charges.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez of the Chicago Area Office of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) and Special Agent in Charge David Gelios of the FBI Detroit Field Office, made the announcement.
VW pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan. Specifically, VW pleaded guilty, first, to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and VW’s U.S. customers and to violate the Clean Air Act by lying and misleading the EPA and U.S. customers about whether certain VW, Audi and Porsche branded diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards, using cheating software to circumvent the U.S. testing process and concealing material facts about its cheating from U.S. regulators. Second, VW pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme. And third, VW pleaded guilty to importing these cars into the United States by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits. After accepting VW’s plea, Judge Cox scheduled the company’s sentencing for April 21, 2017.
The FBI and EPA-CID investigated the case. This case is being prosecuted by members of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section, including: Chief of the Securities and Financial Fraud Unit Benjamin D. Singer, as well as Trial Attorneys David Fuhr, Alison Anderson, Christopher Fenton and Gary Winters. Also prosecuting the case are members of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section, including: Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell. Additionally, the case is being prosecuted by members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, including Criminal Division Chief Mark Chutkow, Economic Crimes Unit Chief John K. Neal and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Wyse. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also assisted in the case. The Justice Department extends its thanks to the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Braunschweig, Germany.