VW Facing ‘Tsunami’ of Legal Trouble in Emissions Scandal

Who knew about the deception, when did they know it and who directed it?

Those are among questions that state and federal investigators want answered as they plunge into the emissions scandal at Volkswagen that has cost the chief executive his job, caused stock prices to plummet and could result in billions of dollars in fines.

Legal experts say the German automaker is likely to face significant legal problems, including potential criminal charges, arising from its admission that 11 million of its diesel vehicles sold worldwide contained software specifically designed to help cheat emissions tests.

The Environmental Protection Agency has accused VW of installing sophisticated stealth software that enabled “clean diesel” versions of its Passat, Jetta, Golf and Beetle models to detect when they were being tested and emit less-polluting exhaust than in real-world driving conditions. The agency says the “defeat devices” allowed those models to belch up to 40 times the allowed amounts of harmful fumes in order to improve driving performance.

The Justice Department says it’s “working closely” with EPA investigators.

“If there is sufficient evidence to show that Volkswagen intentionally programmed its vehicles to override the emission control devices, the company and any individuals involved could face criminal charges under the Clean Air Act, and for conspiracy, fraud and false statements,” said David M. Uhlmann, a former chief of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section who is now a law professor at the University of Michigan. He called criminal charges “almost certain.”

But Ullmann cautioned that hauling the executives involved into a U.S. courtroom could be challenging because much of the conduct at issue probably occurred overseas. While the U.S. has an extradition treaty with Germany, European regulators are also now investigating and could claim first dibs on prosecuting company officials.

CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned on Wednesday, and Volkswagen announced it would set aside $7.3 billion to cover the cost of the scandal, but even that may not be enough. The company has apologized, but has not yet detailed who was responsible for the defeat devices.

German media reported Sunday that Volkswagen had received warnings years ago about the use of illegal tricks to defeat emissions tests. Bild am Sonntag said VW’s internal investigation has found a 2007 letter from parts supplier Bosch warning Volkswagen not to use the software during regular operation. Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said a Volkswagen technician raised concerns about illegal practices in connection with emissions levels in 2011.

The Clean Air Act allows for fines of up to $37,500 for each of the 482,000 suspect VWs sold in the United States, potentially totaling more than $18 billion. Attorneys general for nearly 30 states and the District of Columbia have announced a coordinated investigation and said they are issuing subpoenas for company records.

There’s also a high likelihood of class-action lawsuits by angry VW owners.

“They’re facing a tsunami of possible state and federal enforcement actions, and a potential large number of violations — including administrative, civil and criminal,” said William Carter, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who specialized in environmental crimes and served as general counsel of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Investigators will almost certainly look for any false statements made to the EPA and for signs that VW has tried to conceal wrongdoing or obstruct regulators. Fraud charges could be considered if evidence emerges that company executives used the Internet or the mail system to carry out the deception. And mail laundering allegations will be explored if investigators suspect that VW sent illicit proceeds overseas.

“If a software package such as this were intentionally designed to defeat the emissions testing, there may well be email traffic, meetings, records that would establish that intent,” said Gregory Linsin, a former environmental crimes prosecutor at the Justice Department.

But Linsin said he expected the Justice Department also to take into account the multiple investigations likely to take place worldwide, and to not punish the automaker in a way that jeopardizes its ability to stay in business.

The problems at VW come as the Justice Department faces growing pressure to prosecute individual executives and employees for corporate misdeeds. The last two major criminal investigations against auto companies — Toyota and General Motors — yielded massive fines over car safety problems but has resulted in no prosecutions of executives. Those outcomes dismayed consumer watchdog groups and grieving victims’ relatives, who demanded better accountability for failure to disclose vehicle defects.

A memo this month by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates sought to reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment to prosecuting employees and executives, directing among other policy mandates that corporations pushing for credit for cooperating with the government must first turn over evidence against individuals.

“Volkswagen has a fundamental choice to make,” said Uhlmann, the former prosecutor. “That is whether it intends to cooperate and seek leniency, or whether it wants to fight the charges. Every indication over the last several days from Volkswagen is that it intends to cooperate.”

Asked whether that meant he expected company executives to voluntarily come to the United States to stand trial, he laughed.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Follow Michael Biesecker: http://twitter.com/mbieseck and Eric Tucker at http://twitter.com/etuckerAP

more reading at: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/vw-facing-tsunami-legal-trouble-emissions-scandal-34077650

Peer 2 Peer Lending Can Help You Finance Projects


People should learn more about peer to peer (P2P) lending. It is very important that you work hard in order to learn how P2P lending can finance different projects. The best projects that are tied to P2P lending are well described.

People should not be afraid to take risks. You need to be able to protect different aspects of your overall financial health, but you should also have a right to make sure that you can live your dreams. Traditional banks do not make it easy for you to live your dreams. Lending Club can give you the microloan that you are looking for you to launch a startup.

Low interest rates can be tied to peer to peer loans. There are groups that can help you find the best peer to peer lending firm for your company. A company owner who wants to launch a second asphalt company may want to use a firm like Prosper in order to live out some of their dreams.

Common people can benefit from people to peer lending. You want to be able to set up different sources of funding in order to make sure people can get hired and remain active in the workforce. Warehouse general labor and the development of the crates that they lift are very important to so many different people. The best startups are going to be tied to services that people need.

Do you want to give your wife the wedding of her dreams? Many companies market the wedding loans that they can give out on a regular basis. There is a very quick approval process out there. Global barriers are going to be broken down because of the work that people do in launching peer to per lending projects. The detailed information that a borrower may have to provide can lend a certain amount of credibility.

People that hate the complex conversations that you can have with a banking officer can make a big difference. The complex conversations that you can have with traditional lenders can be quite intimidating. Peer to peer lending can be quite calming on the other hand.

Some people are tired of asking their friends and family for money. Do you need more money to fix that roof? You may want to consider peer to peer lending instead of having to ask people close to you to bail you out.

Are there a lot of different ways to limit loan losses? Business people know that you have to pay attention to different losses on top of a balance sheet. Clean energy projects can definitely be funded with these loans. Can you people building a bunch of windmills if they are actually unable to get a loan? I have my doubts.

Mansions are not likely to be saved with peer to peer lending, but a middle class homeowner can definitely put a rail on their home with one of these loans. A lender has to be honest during the process. Honesty can lead to good results and future opportunities.

Obtaining the New Dream: Healthy Finances!

In a time when jobs are at a premium, housing market has plummet and gas prices, money is something that we all should keep our watchful eyes on. Keeping your bank accounts and bills in good standing can be accomplished with a simple tool that almost every computer already has: a spreadsheet.

How to use the spreadsheet

Using the mentioned spreadsheet (download to your own computer), start with your current bank account balance for simplicity. From that point on, one can simply put in their normal expenses such as credit card & insurance which does not change from month to month in addition to bills that fluctuate. Most bills allow for you to see the average on your paper statements or website. When entering in this information, you can a pretty simple visual of where all your money is going.

This spreadsheet also allows for an allowance. Not the type that you would pass on to a child but for your own bank account to use however you would like. It could be something as small as $25 but something that gives you the freedom to buy a DVD, video game or something else that you would not budget for and would not need to budget for.

The break in the spreadsheet is to represent pay periods. In my case, I get paid twice a month and some bills are due during the first paycheck and others the second. If you use the spreadsheet, cut & paste bills in a way that works for you based on the various due dates.

After plugging in all your information, this should help you see where you are stand with money each pay period and make the adjustments necessary to improve your bank account(s) and save money for that next big purchase.

In the long run, your family will thank you, your bank accounts will love you and you will be worried free when it comes to money issues should one occur out of the blue.

Simple solutions that will help improve your finances in no time without having to have a financial advisor.