Automobile giant Volkswagen pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in order to dodge pollution rules on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles, by usage of software to suppress emissions of nitrogen oxide during car tests. The German automaker has already agreed to pay $4.3bn in civil and criminal penalties, although VW’s total cost of the scandal has been pegged at about $21bn, including a pledge to repair or buy back vehicles, reports the Guardian.
Under its agreement, VW must cooperate in the investigation and let an independent monitor oversee compliance for three years. Separately, six Volkswagen employees face US criminal charges in the scandal. The development comes after last month, where the company’s executives insisted they had “misled nobody” in testimony before the British House of Commons’ transport select committee.
After West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions, US regulators confronted the company, but Volkswagen denied the use of the so-called ‘defeat device’ but finally admitted it in September 2015. However, VW has the money to pay the fine, even though the cost is staggering and would bankrupt many companies.