Published on January 13th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair0
Volkswagen AG Agrees with US Govt’s Dieselgate Resolution
Volkswagen AG has agreed with the U.S. government to resolve criminal and federal environmental and other civil claims against the company relating to the diesel matter. As part of the resolution, Volkswagen has agreed to pay penalties and fines totalling $4.3 billion and to a series of measures to further strengthen its compliance and control systems, including the appointment of an independent monitor for a period of three years.
The resolution comprises four settlements, including a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The plea agreement is accompanied by a published Statement of Facts that lays out the findings and facts established as to the origins and evolution of the misconduct in the diesel matter.
Volkswagen cooperated with the DOJ’s investigation. The Supervisory Board directed the law firm Jones Day to share all findings of its independent investigation of the diesel matter with the DOJ. The Statement of Facts draws upon Jones Day’s extensive work, as well as on evidence developed by the DOJ.
Terms of the U.S. Resolution
As part of its plea agreement with the DOJ, Volkswagen AG has agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts under U.S. law. The plea agreement, which is subject to U.S. federal court approval, provides for payment of a criminal fine of $2.8 billion and the appointment of an independent monitor for a period of three years. The monitor will assess, oversee and monitor the company’s compliance with the terms of the resolution, including measures to further strengthen Volkswagen’s compliance, reporting and monitoring mechanisms and implementation of an enhanced ethics program.
Volkswagen has further agreed to pay a combined penalty of $1.45 billion to resolve U.S. federal environmental and customs-related civil claims. Separately, Volkswagen has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $50 million to the Civil Division of the DOJ to settle potential claims asserted under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). Volkswagen specifically denies any liability and expressly disputes these claims, which it is settling to avoid the uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation.
By their terms, the agreements announced today resolve Volkswagen’s liability under U.S. law and are not intended to address Volkswagen’s liability, if any, under the laws or regulations of any jurisdiction outside the United States. Volkswagen continues to cooperate with investigations by the DOJ into the conduct of individuals and with inquiries by the Braunschweig and Munich public prosecutor’s offices in Germany. In order not to prejudice or otherwise impede ongoing investigations, the company will not make any further comment on the Statement of Facts or findings of the work of Jones Day.
Significant Steps to Realign the Group for the Future
Since the end of September 2015, Volkswagen has taken significant steps to address the diesel matter and realign the Group for the future. The change process now under way is the biggest in Volkswagen’s history and will transform its core business.
The initiatives Volkswagen has implemented in response to the diesel matter include enhanced operational processes and reporting and control systems to ensure responsibilities are clear, a more robust whistleblower system and new, stricter standards in its emissions testing practices. Independently of the events that led to the diesel matter, the Volkswagen Group will leave no stone unturned to prevent violations of any rules and identify such violations as early as possible.
The Group has substantially elevated its commitment to working ethically and with integrity and is decentralising how Volkswagen is managed by granting its brands and regions much more autonomy. These and other substantive actions across the Group are part of a broader transformation of Volkswagen’s corporate culture to create a more entrepreneurial and international organisation.