A German court fined Volkswagen Group €1 billion ($1.2 billion) this week for its role in the 2015 diesel scandal. The fine is among the largest imposed on a company in Germany's history, according to the prosecutor in the case, and it shows that the German automaker is still dealing with the fallout from a persistent pattern of lying to regulators.
The diesel scandal first became public in the United States three years ago after regulators discovered that Volkswagen diesel vehicles were emitting significantly more nitrogen oxide (NOx) while on the road than the legal limit. Later, researchers were able to find the exact code that suppressed the emissions control system on 2007-2015 diesel Volkswagens, Audis, and Porsches from Volkswagen Group.
The new German fine is related to "inadequate oversight" in the powertrain department, according to CNN Money.
Volkswagen Group issued a statement on Wednesday saying that it would accept the fine and would not appeal the verdict. "Volkswagen AG, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome," the statement noted. The company's statement also noted that paying the fine would end "active regulatory offense proceedings" by the public prosecutor.
Volkswagen Group has already paid considerable fines in the US. The company committed to paying $15 billion in a buyback program that would take about 475,000 2.0-liter diesels in question off the road or fix them to be compliant with US emissions standards. In a separate action, Volkswagen Group had to pay $4.3 billion in civil and criminal fines and plead guilty to criminal charges. In October 2016, the company agreed to pay VW dealers $1.21 billion, and in December 2016, it agreed to a $1 billion settlement with owners of 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, primarily Porsches and Audis.
As Volkswagen Group starts to wrap up actions taken against it as a whole, prosecutors in the US and Germany are turning up the heat on individual executives of the company. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the home of Audi leader Rupert Stadler had been raided by investigators. Stadler is the latest of "dozens of current and former managers and engineers" who are considered suspects in a criminal inquiry.
In May, former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn was indicted by US officials for the first time, and in December 2017 Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt was sentenced to seven years in prison and a $400,000 fine.
The scandals may not be confined to Volkswagen Group, either. The Times notes that this week the German Transport Ministry in Berlin ordered Daimler to recall more than 770,000 diesel vehicles in Europe "because of 'inadmissible' software that shut down or reduced the effectiveness of equipment designed to control diesel emissions."