Volkswagen ready to plead guilty in emissions scandal, pay $4.3 billion

WOLFSBURG , Germany, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Volkswagen is ready to plead guilty and pay $4.3 billion in U.S. fines over its emissions cheating scandal, a financial disclosure revealed.

The company said Tuesday a "concrete draft of a settlement" with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been negotiated. The agreement still requires approval by Volkswagen executives, but includes a guilty plea to criminal charges. Companies generally agree to make payments after criminal accusations, but the admission of guilt will likely weaken Volkswagen's case in state courts and in lawsuits brought by Volkswagen shareholders, the New York Times said Wednesday.

The deal comes after the company admitted it equipped up to 11 million vehicles, sold worldwide, with software enabling them to produce inaccurate air pollution test readings.

Volkswagen is expected to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, to violations of the Clean Air Act, to customs violations, and obstruction of justice, the New York Times said, citing two unidentified people briefed on the settlement. About 600,000 Volkswagens, equipped with the emissions-cheating software and made in Germany or Mexico, were imported to the United States. The fines cover criminal and civil punishments, including environmental and customs-related penalties. The announced fines will bring Volkswagen's cost of the scandal in the United States to $20 billion, with more litigation expected in other countries.

The disclosure Tuesday added that funds set aside by the company to pay scandal-related costs are insufficient to cover the agreement with U.S. authorities.
Ed Adamczyk

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