The US Justice Department recently announced that Volkswagen AG has agreed to plead guilty to 3 criminal felony counts and to pay a total in $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.
In addition, 6 Volkswagen executives and employees have been charged for their roles in the “10-year conspiracy” (as the press release put it) — including the previously arrested exec Oliver Schmidt, 48. The others charged are: Heinz-Jakob Neusser, 56; Jens Hadler, 50; Richard Dorenkamp, 68; Bernd Gottweis, 69; and Jürgen Peter, 59 — all of which are citizens of Germany.
All of these execs or employees have been “charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, defraud VW’s US customers and violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW’s supposedly ‘clean diesel’ vehicles to comply with US emissions requirements.”
In addition, the indictment also “charges Dorenkamp, Neusser, Schmidt, and Peter with Clean Air Act violations and charges Neusser, Gottweis, Schmidt, and Peter with wire fraud counts.”
US District Judge Sean F Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan has been assigned the case.
As far as the agreed upon penalties, $2.8 billion relates to the guilty pleas for the aforementioned 3 criminal felony counts, $1.5 billion relates to a number of separate civil resolutions of environmental, customs and financial claims. These claims include the EPA claims for the company’s importation and sale of the vehicle in question, and the US Customs and Border Protection claims for customs fraud.
The press release provides more: “Under the terms of the plea agreement, which must be accepted by the court, VW will plead guilty to all these crimes, will be on probation for 3 years, will be under an independent corporate compliance monitor who will oversee the company for at least three years, and agrees to fully cooperate in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of individuals responsible for these crimes.”
It also provides further information on the 6 Volkswagen execs and employees indicted:
Heinz-Jakob Neusser: from July 2013 until September 2015, Neusser worked for VW as head of Development for VW Brand and was also on the management board for VW Brand. From October 2011 until July 2013, Neusser served as the head of Engine Development for VW.
Jens Hadler: from May 2007 until March 2011, Hadler worked for VW as head of Engine Development for VW.
Richard Dorenkamp: from 2003 until December 2013, Dorenkamp worked for VW as the head of VW’s Engine Development After-Treatment Department in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 2006 until 2013, Dorenkamp led a team of engineers that developed the first diesel engine that was designed to meet the new, tougher emissions standards in the United States.
Bernd Gottweis: from 2007 until October 2014, Gottweis worked for VW as a supervisor with responsibility for Quality Management and Product Safety.
Oliver Schmidt: from 2012 through February 2015, Schmidt was the General Manager in charge of the Environment and Engineering Office, located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. From February 2015 through September 2015, Schmidt returned to VW headquarters to work directly for Neusser, including on emissions issues.
Jürgen Peter: Peter worked in the VW Quality Management and Product Safety Group from 1990 until the present. From March 2015 until July 2015, Peter was one of the VW liaisons between the regulatory agencies and VW.
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