A federal judge has approved a $2.8 billion criminal penalty against Volkswagen for cheating on diesel emissions tests.
District Judge Sean Cox approved deal and fine — the largest ever levied by the U.S. government against an automaker — negotiated by VW and the Justice Department during a Friday hearing in Detroit. The announcement comes six weeks after the German automaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
VW admits that nearly 600,000 diesel cars in the U.S. were programmed to turn on pollution controls during testing and off while on the road.
Separately, VW is paying $1.5 billion in a civil case brought by the government and spending $11 billion to buy back cars and offer other compensation. Seven employees have also been charged.
U.S. regulators confronted VW about the software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions. Volkswagen at first denied the use of the so-called defeat device but finally admitted it in September 2015.
Even after that admission, company employees were busy deleting computer files and other evidence, VW's general counsel Manfred Doss acknowledged to Judge Cox.