Oh my God, it’s finally almost over. After a 10-year conspiracy and almost 600,000 rigged diesel cars, VW’s legal battle with the United States is coming to an end. Volkswagen pled guilty last month to conspiracy to commit fraud and the obstruction of justice after it was caught cheating on emissions tests in 2015, and we’ve been eagerly waiting the verdict and subsequent punishment.
Today, a U.S. judge ordered the automaker to observe three years of probation and shell out a $2.8 billion criminal fine. The sum, which Steph Willems has informed me equates to 135,168 VW Golfs — after delivery and rounding up to the closest car — is in addition to the company’s $1.5 billion in civil penalties, $4.7 billion in mandatory anti-pollution initiatives, and $11.2 billion diesel buyback program.
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, who is apparently as ready for this to be over as we are, said during the Friday morning hearing that there would be no restitution to alleged victims tied to the criminal case, as it would complicate and delay sentencing. With fines already levied against the automaker and executives facing independent criminal charges, Cox stated that he believed the 2.8 billion dollar penalty and extended probationary period would be sufficient punishment.
However, he admitted to being upset over customers and employees harmed by the company’s actions, as well as the “deliberate destruction of evidence by VW management … with the participation and under supervision by [its] legal counsel.”
“This is a very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company,” Cox told The Detroit News. “I just can’t believe that VW is in this situation that it finds itself in today.”