A worker fixes a sign at a Volkswagen Golf car during a press tour in Zwickau, central Germany on Nov. 9, 2012. German automaker Volkswagen is expected back in court in Toronto today to plead guilty to environment-related charges. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Volkswagen ordered to pay $196.5M in emissions scandal

Volkswagen previously pleaded guilty in U.S. court to three felonies in 2017

German automotive giant Volkswagen was ordered Wednesday to pay a $196.5-million fine to the Canadian government after pleading guilty in an emissions-cheating scandal.

Judge Enzo Rondinelli handed down the record-setting fine hours after the automaker formally pleaded guilty to all 60 charges it was facing.

The Crown and Volkswagen jointly suggested the penalty, which falls short of the maximum $265 million the company could have been forced to pay. But prosecutors said the penalty is more than 20 times higher than Canada’s previous record environmental fine, a contention Rondinelli supported as he ushered in what he described as new standards for environmental accountability.

“The proposed fine here indicates that a new era of environmental protection is upon us,” Rondinelli said in his decision. “The proposed fine here would be the biggest fine imposed in Canada for an environmental infraction, by a wide margin.”

Volkswagen and the Crown submitted an agreed statement of facts in a Toronto court, acknowledging the company imported 128,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, along with 2,000 Porsches, that violated the standards.

Reading from the statement, prosecutor Tom Lemon noted that certain supervisors and other employees at Volkswagen “knew that VW was using software to cheat the U.S. testing process,” the results of which are used by Canadian authorities.

READ MORE: Volkswagen pleads guilty to all Canadian charges in emissions-cheating scandal

The federal government charged the auto giant last month with 58 counts of illegal importation under the Environmental Protection Act and two counts of providing misleading information.

The penalty proposed by both sides was significantly higher than the $7.5 million fine incurred by a mining company in 2014.

The money paid by Volkswagen would go to the Environmental Damages Fund, and both parties suggested distributing it to the provinces and territories based on how many affected vehicles were sold in each jurisdiction.

The statement of facts notes that the automaker has already tried to make some amends in Canada.

Volkswagen “has devoted significant resources to, and undertaken extensive measures for, the remediation of the subject vehicles,” Lemon read in court.

“VW settled Canadian consumer claims by providing compensation and benefits for emissions modification and buyback options to remediate the subject vehicles … or remove them from the road.”

Those settlements, according to the document, provided benefits “of up to a potential maximum” of $2.39 billion, and were completed by Aug. 31, 2019.

But the company refused to admit any actual human or environmental harm caused by its pollution, saying only that the scheme had the potential to cause harm.

In court last month, defence lawyers said they intended to plead guilty, but the resolution was delayed while three people sought to make victim impact statements and provide other input.

Rondinelli ruled against them, saying it’s not their role to prosecute the company accused of harming them.

Lemon said at the time he would gather victim impact statements and review them before submitting them to the court on Jan. 22, in line with the typical process.

On Wednesday, prosecutors argued that the “community impact statement” turned in to them was not admissible in court. The seven-page document — accompanied by 520 pages of reference materials — was an attempt to enter untested expert testimony into the record, they said.

Rondinelli accepted that argument.

“We are at a sentencing hearing, not a trial,” he said.

Volkswagen previously pleaded guilty in U.S. court to three felonies in 2017 and was fined $4.3 billion. German prosecutors fined the company one billion euros in the emissions-cheating case in 2018.

Several company executives and managers were also charged in the U.S. and Germany, and some were sent to prison.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

TNRD purchases property for new Ashcroft/Cache Creek Eco-Depot

New facility will be built at former chip reload plant site off Highway 1

Ashcroft council supports curling club and rink in 2020 budget

Budget includes funds to do necessary equipment upgrades at curling rink

Grant allows Ashcroft seniors to benefit from music and memories

New program will help seniors at Thompson View, Jackson House, and beyond with the gift of music

More filming coming to area means more training opportunities

The film commissioner for the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission says that although the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read