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

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Peninsula organizations fund food bank ahead of ‘looming crisis’

Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank receives more than $5,000 from local organizations

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read