Sentence next for Volkswagen in US diesel emissions scandal

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On Friday, April 21, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Cox ordered Volkswagen to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty in the United States for cheating on diesel emissions tests, blessing a deal negotiated by the government for a "massive fraud" orchestrated by the German automaker.

Volkswagen admitted to conspiring for almost a decade to deceive USA officials with illegal software that allowed vehicles to pass government emissions tests and then pollute far beyond legal limits on the road.

The auto maker will remain on probation for three years and has agreed to cooperate with continuing USA government probes and prosecutions of individuals tied to the scandal.

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Since the September 2015 disclosure that VW intentionally cheated on emissions tests for at least six years, the company has agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and to make buy-back offers. The company admitted that 11 million of its vehicles worldwide had been fitted with emissions cheating software and agreed to pay settlements totalling to $15 billion.

"This is a deliberate and massive fraud perpetrated on the American consumer, and it would seem, consumers throughout the world", he said.

In brief remarks to the judge, VW defense attorney Jason Weinstein says the criminal fine is an "appropriate and serious sanction".

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"Plain and simple, it was wrong".

Birmingham attorney Craig Hilborn asked Cox to reject the government's plea deal because it did not include any court-ordered restitution for victims and did not charge Volkswagen Group of America with a crime. US prosecutors said in January that five of the seven are believed to be in Germany.

One aspect of the case that remains unresolved is the fate of VW executive Oliver Schmidt who U.S. authorities arrested in Miami in January, one of seven company employees who have been charged. Volkswagen, which pleaded guilty to three felony counts, will be on probation for three years and will be overseen by a corporate compliance monitor for that time, the Department of Justice said earlier this year. "We let people down and for that we're deeply sorry".

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