Report: DoJ still pursuing criminal inquiry in VW emissions scandal
The US Department of Justice is reportedly still pushing forward with its criminal investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel scandal.
Prosecutors are already involved in settlement negotiations with VW officials, aiming to reach an agreement before the end of the year, unnamed sources recently told The Wall Street Journal.
VW earlier this year reneged on its promise to release details of its ongoing internal investigation, arguing that public disclosure could ‘weaken’ its position in ongoing settlement negotiations with various US enforcement authorities. The move fueled speculation that the inquiry may include evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Separate reports months ago claimed a top VW tech executive prepared a PowerPoint presentation detailing the emissions cheat back in 2006. If true, the allegation contradicts official company statements blaming the fiasco on ‘rogue’ low-level engineers.
The WSJ sources claim DoJ prosecutors have not yet finalized specific criminal charges, but the settlement terms could raise the bar for criminal financial penalties in the auto industry. The fines would have to top the $1.2 billion settlement that Toyota paid, accused of wire fraud related to the unintended acceleration recalls.
Aside from the financial penalties, a criminal settlement with VW is expected to include an oversight provision with further potential penalties for non-compliance.