Volkswagen’s Dieselgate Concludes in the U.S.

Volkswagen Group appears to have completed the terms laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice after it decided the automaker required some oversight in the wake of the 2015 emissions fiasco (colloquially known as Dieselgate). VW was found guilty of equipping certain models with emissions-cheating software that would allow the car to run cleaner under testing conditions (passing regulations) and dirtier, with better performance, the rest of the time.

The con was brilliant and allowed VW to fool regulators for years until it all blew up in its face. Getting caught in the United States kicked off a chain reaction that cost the automaker a fortune globally. In May, VW estimated it had spent €31.3 billion ($34.40 billion USD) in fines and settlements and fines globally — adding that it expects to bleed another €4.1 billion through 2021. But the company was certainly happy to announce on Monday that it had adhered to settlement deal it reached with the Department of Justice and California’s Attorney General. 

Tasked with keeping tabs on VW’s progress, the former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson said in his final report that the company looked to be in the clear.

From Volkswagen Group:

Hiltrud D. Werner, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG for Integrity and Legal Affairs, commented: “We are proud of the progress we have made to enhance our internal compliance, reporting and monitoring functions. We would like to thank Mr. Thompson and his team for their guidance through the audit and support in satisfying our obligations under the Third Partial Consent Decrees with the U.S. authorities.”

The findings from the first and second interim reports are incorporated into the third report, which covers the entire three-year term of the Independent Compliance Auditor.

Thompson also serves as the Independent Compliance Monitor under the terms of Volkswagen’s 2017 plea agreement with the DOJ. Subject to final certification by Thompson, the Monitorship will continue until September.

Thompson and his team were allowed a large amount of access at Volkswagen and its subsidiaries, giving the Justice Department high confidence that the conditions have been met — though his monitoring will continue until September. Of course, that doesn’t absolve other nations from enacting additional financial penalties.

It also won’t save the company from the ongoing civil suits seeking additional damages for customers put out by the recalls. Still, that’s more or less a wrap on the U.S. government’s direct role in the matter. Unless Thompson missed something in his latest report (available here for your enjoyment), this is one less problem the automaker has to contend with.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC