VW and Argo AI on Auto cars

Six of Volkswagen’s executive face criminal charges in ties with the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. Of the six executives, one is the former head of development. Another includes the head of engine development.

This incident first underwent investigation back in 2014. During initial testing, it showed diesel vehicles emitted less pollution than on the road. According to those investigating, executives were aware that the cars knew when testing happened. Since they were able to detect testing, the vehicles produced ideal pollution ratings.

It has been deemed that Volkswagen executives knowingly distributed inaccurate information to the California Air Resources Board as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Volkswagen already pled guilty on the charges of wire fraud, violation of the Clean Air Act, and obstruction of justice. There were an estimated 600,000 cars that contained emissions-cheating software. Those vehicles were reportedly imported from Mexico and Germany.

Wringing a guilty plea from a major business like Volkswagen isn’t small by any standard. It does seem to be on the Obama administration’s list of things to complete before they leave office. This would also come as a turn-around for the administration. Prosecutors accused it of letting big corporate executive off the hook in past situations.

It’s still unclear as to what President-elect Donald Trump thinks about the situation, though. This case is one move the Justice Department has made toward holding large corporations and their executives accountable for their actions.

The criticism of the Justice Department went on for years. Accusations of the Justice Department being too lenient on banks responsible for the recession. The Justice Department slapped most of the institutions with fines, while the executives avoided liability.

Since the criticism, the department underwent changes to reconcile the problems. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates created a new policy. The new policy deepened the investigations of executives accused of any wrongdoing. Yates commented that “This isn’t just a paper policy — I think you’re seeing the results.” Therefore, it’s clear why things haven’t been so easy for Volkswagen.

Of the six executives who to prosecute, authorities ascertained one. Authorities placed Oliver Schmidt under arrest last week after they located him in Florida. They apprehended him as he prepared to board his flight to Germany. The rest of the executives are residing in Germany.

None of the six executives charged are part of Volkswagen’s management board. However, they do report directly to it, and the protection of major board members could be what saves Volkswagen a lot of lawsuits.

This poses an issue for the Justice Department. Germany isn’t known to extradite its own citizens. Yet whether or not German decides to prosecute them, the U.S charges against them would most likely hinder their travel plans. It is also speculated that this could lead to ruffled feathers between the U.S. and Germany.

While it isn’t clear as to whether Germany will present the executives, there were may excuses made when it came to defected vehicles. Volkswagen admitted to having its employees delete incriminating emails in 2015. Those in charge of software knew cars covered excess pollution when it sensed testing.

Volkswagen has since approved of a settlement with the government. The settlement, however, needs the final approval of Judge Sean F. Cox. There are terms to the agreement. Probation of three years, an independent monitor, and the further investigation of former as well as current employees.

The New York Times names the six employees (along with Oliver Schmidt) as Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jens Hadler, Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis, and Jürgen Peter. It’s expected that Volkswagen will pay $4.3 billion in fines. That total doesn’t include the cost of settlements to vehicle owners, which makes $20 billion.