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Six VW employees indicted in emissions scandal

Six VW employees indicted in emissions scandal

The Justice Department is bringing criminal charges against six high-level Volkswagen employees for their alleged roles in the company's diesel emissions cheating scandal.

As part of a plea deal announced by federal prosecutors on Wednesday, the automaker has also agreed to admit wrongdoing and pay a record $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.

"Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied and they ultimately lied,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference, according to The Associated Press.

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One company executive, Oliver Schmidt, was arrested over the weekend in Florida and charged in connection to the emissions cheating scandal on Monday. The remaining five employees are believed to be in Germany, according to The New York Times.

The employees are being charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., defraud customers and violate the Clean Air Act.

In 2015, federal officials revealed that Volkswagen was deliberately skirting emissions testing for some of its diesel vehicles. Regulators said VW had equipped up to 11 million vehicles with β€œdefeat devices,” or software allowing the cars to emit more toxic chemicals than is allowed under federal law.

The company has settled a handful of complaints against it related to the scandal, including a $14.7 billion deal covering owners of 2-liter diesel vehicles and environmental violations and a $1.2 billion deal with U.S. franchise dealers. The company is planning to buy back 3-liter diesel vehicles that include the defeat device software.

VW has also agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation, which the AP reports could lead to the arrest of more employees, as well as agreed to the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance and control measures for three years.

Devin Henry contributed to this report.