A federal judge sentenced Volkswagen Friday to three years of probation for the German automaker’s role in a nearly decade-long conspiracy to dupe fuel emission regulators.
The company is required to undergo scrutiny from an independent regulator as part of a $4.3 billion settlement announced in January, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox decided. He also formally approved a $2.8 billion criminal fine and a requirement that VW make significant internal reforms.
“This is a very serious and very troubling case involving an iconic automobile company,” Cox added. “I just can’t believe VW is in the situation it finds itself in today.”
Cox rejected separate calls from lawyers representing VW customers for restitution. No injured parties spoke in court.
VW admitted in 2015 to installing so-called defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. The devices would only kick on during road conditions when emission measuring tools were not engaged.
The auto company pleaded guilty in March to fraud and obstruction of justice, among other violations, after admitting to fixing so-called cheat devices in 580,000 diesel vehicles.
A federal prosecutor confirmed at the sentence hearing that the government will name former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Larry Thompson to serve as the VW’s primary regulator.
VW agreed to spend up to $25 billion to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and to make buy-back offers.
VW executives were charged in January of conspiring to dupe regulators on the environmental quality of its diesel vehicles. Oliver Schmidt, the first executive for the German automaker to be arrested in connection with the emission scandal, was among those charged.
The scandal eventually led to the Environmental Protection Agency notching out plans to investigate how the company’s executives managed to thwart the agency’s emission regulators.
EPA’s Office of Inspector General aims to determine if the agency’s existing internal controls are effective at detecting emissions fraud, according to a memo posted earlier this month on the agency’s website. The project is included in the OIG’s 2017 fiscal year plan.
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