6 Volkswagen execs indicted over emissions scandal
NEW YORK — Six Volkswagen executives were indicted Wednesday in connection with the carmaker’s emissions cheating scandal.
The indictment was announced the day after Volkswagen said that it had agreed to pay $4.3 billion in federal fines and take the unusual step of pleading guilty to criminal charges.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that the six VW officials “held positions of significant responsibility, including overseeing engine development and serving on the management board.”
“They seriously abused those positions,” Lynch said at a press conference Wednesday.
Those who were indicted, who are all German, are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., defraud American customers and violate the federal Clean Air Act — which regulates harmful emissions from cars.
One of those indicted was Oliver Schmidt, who headed the company’s regulatory compliance division, was arrested in Miami over the weekend.
“This wasn’t simply the action of some faceless, multinational corporation. This conspiracy involved flesh-and-blood individuals who used their positions within Volkswagen to deceive both regulators and consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Volkswagen declined to comment on the indictments, but the company issued a statement about the settlement. “The agreements that we have reached with the U.S. government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear,” said CEO Matthias Muller.
“VW committed crimes against consumers and the environment and criminal penalties and an admission of criminal wrongdoing would be a welcome and necessary counterpart to the historic civil settlement. Holding individual executives culpable is critical to effectively halt wrongdoing and deter future misconduct,” U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) said in a statement.
Muller replaced former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned amid the controversy.
The company has been under fire since 2015 for installing software on millions of vehicles that allowed the cars to cheat emission tests.
A federal investigation into the scandal is still ongoing.
As part of a plea deal, VW has also agreed to hire an independent monitor to oversee the company for at least three years.
In June, VW agreed to a separate settlement of $14.7 billion. That deal included payouts to customers and funds allocated for environmental cleanup.