By Ovunc Kutlu
Six Volkswagen employees were indicted for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and the company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
The company will pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty for 590,000 vehicles sold in the U.S that have software that manipulate emissions tests. An additional $1.5 billion fine will go to resolve environmental, customs and financial claims.
The employees were indicted for their roles in the scandal that goes back nearly 10 years, according to a Justice Department statement.
The defendants are charged with violating the Clean Air Act and conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and American consumers by stating the company’s "clean diesel" vehicles complied with emission standards.
"Volkswagen’s attempts to dodge emissions standards and import falsely certified vehicles into the country represent an egregious violation of our nation’s environmental, consumer protection and financial laws," according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
"In the days ahead, we will continue to examine Volkswagen’s attempts to mislead consumers and deceive the government. And we will continue to pursue the individuals responsible for orchestrating this damaging conspiracy," she added.
An estimated 11 million Volkswagen diesel vehicles around the world have the manipulative software.
The German automaker has already fired 10 of its top executives in an internal investigation, while CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned.