Oh, you thought Volkswagen was out of the woods now after its $14.7 billion settlement with the feds? Not yet. The troubled automaker still has an ongoing criminal investigation to deal with, and today it came out that settling that case could cost VW billions of dollars.
That’s from the Wall Street Journal, which reported the U.S. Justice Department “found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions cheating” over 600,000 cars in the U.S. But it’s not clear yet how far investigators will want to take things.
From the story:
Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit and the Justice Department’s fraud and environmental crimes sections in Washington are still weighing whether to seek a guilty plea from Volkswagen or pursue a so-called deferred prosecution agreement under which the government would aim to later dismiss charges so long as the auto maker adheres to settlement terms, the people said.
Over the past two years, Toyota Motor Corp.and General Motors Co. reached deferred prosecution agreements with the Justice Department related to safety lapses. Both companies expressed regret for those lapses and pledged reforms.
Toyota paid $1.2 billion to end its criminal case with the feds over unintended acceleration; it was accused of misleading consumers and making deceptive statements to the government. Also, General Motors ended the criminal case surrounding its ignition switch fiasco to the tune of $900 million. The Journal says Volkswagen could end up paying even more than Toyota did.
The big question remains whether prosecutors will act to charge any individual people in the Dieselgate scandal; the newspaper notes that many VW employees reside in Germany, obviously, and would thus have to be extradited to face trial in America.
The negotiations that aim to wrap the case could be finalized before the end of the year.