The long arm of the U.S. justice system apparently extends all the way to Wolfsburg. The emission test rigging scandal that engulfed Volkswagen last year, releasing about 1 million tons of illegal pollution per year, is far from over. The CEO might have lost his job and the stock has been punished by the market, but everyone knows that billions in fines are also on the horizon.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department just filed a civil lawsuit against VW for "allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by installing illegal devices to impair emission control systems in nearly 600,000 vehicles." (there were over 11 million cheating vehicles in total, but most were sold outside the U.S.)
The Justice Department lawsuit accuses Volkswagen of four counts of violating the U.S. Clean Air Act, including tampering with the emissions control system and failing to report violations. These allegations carry penalties that could cost Volkswagen billions of dollars, a senior Justice Department official said.
"The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation's clean air laws," said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden of the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. "We're alleging that they knew what they were doing, they intentionally violated the law and that the consequences were significant to health."
The Justice Dept. is also looking into fraud charges, which would be criminal, but this would require a harder burden of proof than the civil suit, so it's not yet clear what will happen on that front.