Volkswagen May Still Face U.S. Criminal Charges Over Dieselgate

Justice Department and VW are reportedly discussing a settlement.

byWill Sabel Courtney| UPDATED Jul 16, 2019 12:43 AM
Volkswagen May Still Face U.S. Criminal Charges Over Dieselgate

The ripples of Dieselgate continue to spread. ​The United States Justice Department has evidence Volkswagen engaged in criminal wrongdoing as part of the carmaker's diesel-emissions cheating scandal, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

VW and the Department of Justice are reportedly in talks to negotiate a potentially large financial settlement by the end of the year, but the timing of the final deal could be pushed back, according to WSJ, which cited sources familiar with the matter. So far, the discussion has purportedly revolved around a settlement that would combine both civil and criminal penalties.

Prosecutors in the Detroit branch of the U.S. attorney's office, along with the DOJ department tasked with environmental crimes and fraud, are reportedly weighing whether to push for a guilty plea from VW or to accept a deal known as a "deferred prosecution agreement​." The U.S. government has reached such arrangements in the past with automakers, such as with General Motors over its ignition switch scandal; in such a scenario, the feds would agree not to prosecute if Volkswagen sticks to the terms of its settlement. 

However, the Justice Department is purportedly still deciding whether or not to charge any individual Volkswagen employees with separate criminal charges. Doing so could require extraditing some VW staffers from their native Germany, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Any monetary criminal settlement would be yet another line item on VW's massive-and-growing Dieselgate tab, which already includes $15 billion for a civil settlement filed by consumers in the United States and could soon include hundreds of millions of dollars in a separate civil suit filed by New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts