Volkswagen pleads guilty to evading US government diesel emissions rules concerning 600,000 vehicles

German automaker pleads guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and an import crime

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Volkswagen has formally pleaded guilty to cheating the US government by using software to evade emission rules in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles. 

The German automaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and an import crime. 

Manfred Doess, VW general counsel, told a court in Detroit the company was “guilty on all three counts”.

He added the criminal acts occurred in both the US and Germany.

The deal with the Department of Justice (DoJ) was made weeks ago. VW agreed to pay a $4.3bn (£3.5bn) penalty, although the scandal has cost the company about $21bn. 

The company admitted installing software that activated pollution controls during government tests and switched them off during regular driving. 

The devices allowed the carmaker to beat emissions tests over a six-year period and emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

US regulators confronted VW about the software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions. Volkswagen denied the use of the so-called defeat device but finally admitted it in September 2015, sending shockwaves through the entire global car industry.

According to research presented by scientists from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last week, more than a thousand people in Europe are likely to die early as a result of being exposed to fumes emitted by Volkswagen cars involved in a major emissions scandal that has rocked the global auto industry.

Of the premature deaths, 500 will likely occur in Germany, according to MIT, with the other 60 per cent happening in neighbouring countries, most notably Poland, France, and the Czech Republic.

Volkswagen issued a massive recall of the vehicles affected, faced a multitude of lawsuits and has agreed to pay billions to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, but the MIT report found that the scandal had already had an impact on public health in Germany and beyond.

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