Volkswagen expecting $4.3B criminal, civil settlement

DETROIT—Volkswagen Group expects to reach a multi-billion-dollar criminal and civil settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection over its emissions scandal, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The German automaker said Tuesday that it expects to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $4.3 billion to settle accusations that it rigged more than half a million U.S. diesel vehicles with software to cheat emissions standards.

It was not immediately clear whether any additional VW executives would be charged. One executive, general manager Oliver Schmidt, was charged Monday in Florida for allegedly conspiring to cheat regulations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe has centered on two unidentified cooperating witnesses and a third VW worker, James Liang, who pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

VW still faces a criminal investigation in Germany, as well. The company recently agreed to separate civil settlements worth about $17 billion for U.S. consumers and dealers who own diesel vehicles affected by the scandal, authorizing buybacks and free fixes.

The company said Tuesday that as a part of the criminal settlement it would accept an independent monitor responsible for overseeing its regulatory actions for three years.

Volkswagen said the deal, which has been widely expected, could be announced as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

The company, which reportedly wanted to reach a deal before the inauguration of Donald Trump cast a cloud of uncertainty over regulatory policy, said it had negotiated a "concrete draft" of the deal. Its board must still authorize the settlement.

The penalties would top VW's previously set-aside provisions of more than $19 billion to cover the costs of the scandal, the company acknowledged. But likely outcome brings its total scandal costs to nearly $22 billion.

Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst had estimated the criminal settlement would total $3 billion.

"This is good news," Ellinghorst said Tuesday in a note to investors. "But in the broader scheme of things we believe the most important news is that VW managed to come to an agreement that allows the company to move on from here. It’s a major relief that this doesn’t get dragged into the new U.S. administration."

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


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