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Fiat Chrysler’s emissions close to pleading guilty to forgery: report | Business and economics news


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is close to an agreement to convict for criminal conduct to solve a multi-year emissions fraud investigation into a RAM pick-up truck and Jeep Sport utility vehicle with a diesel engine, people familiar with the matter said.

FCA lawyers and U.S. Justice Department officials are brokering an application deal that could be unveiled next week and include fines ranging from a total of $ 250 million to $ 300 million, they said.

Such a resolution with the FCA, now part of Stellantis NV, would come more than four years after Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to criminal charges to resolve its own diesel-emissions scandal involving nearly 600,000 vehicles. This will mark the final significant chapter of the official crackdown on automakers’ emissions practice, which was triggered by Volkswagen’s deception, known as “Dieselgate”.

The FCA investigation focuses on roughly 100,000 diesel-powered vehicles that allegedly evade emission requirements. Discussions on the application are fluid and some terms, including any financial penalties, may change if negotiations continue, people said.

Judicial officials are preparing paperwork that will likely be negotiated with the FCA to finalize the application agreement, which could lead to changes and also present an opportunity for the agreement to be broken, they said.

An application agreement will cap on a series of 2015 investigations into diesel-powered vehicles in the FCA’s U.S. lineup. The current criminal investigation targets the U.S. unit of the Italian-American carmaker. Damaged vehicle models range from 2014 to 2016.

FCA Parent Stellantis and representatives of the judiciary declined to comment.

Emissions fraud scandals have tarnished diesel technology and accelerated the transition of the industry to electric vehicles.

European automakers promoted “clean diesel” technology as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and facilitate change in the all-electric future. When regulators on both sides of the Atlantic uncover evidence that diesel vehicles are much more polluted in real-world driving, the rationale for slow transfers to battery electric vehicles is shattered.

Now, automakers are accelerating the development of battery electric vehicles to comply with more stringent, post-dieselgate pollution standards.

A conspiracy

FCA negotiations are heating up as one of its employees prepares to face trial next year on allegations that he misled regulators about vehicle pollution, and officials continue to defraud Volkswagen even after it cheated on government emissions tests.

The FCA has previously resolved the relevant civil complaint [File: Rebecca Cook/Reuters]

In April, the judiciary uncovered charges against two additional FCA employees on charges of alleged emissions fraud. Italian authorities arrested one of the two additional employees in September.

An allegation has been made that employees conspired to install illegal software known as defeat devices on vehicles so that they could evade government emissions tests and then pollute the roads beyond legal limits.

The FCA has previously resolved the concerned citizen complaint when it denies that it tried to cheat the emissions test.

Other legal issues have also dogged the automaker. In March, the company pleaded guilty to violating U.S. labor laws, admitting it conspired to pay union officials illegally.

Discussion of the current application in the emissions investigation comes on the heels of other changes to the FCA. The company earlier this year sealed the merger with French Peugeot maker PSA to form Stalantis. In September, Stellantis said the former top boss of the FCA would step down as chief executive of Autonomy Inc., the largest U.S. dealership chain.

Emission test fraud

In the emissions investigation, the criminal case against the FCA is expected to closely track the Volkswagen that the judiciary unveiled in 2017, people said.

Volkswagen has admitted fraud in government emissions tests with diesel-powered vehicles, confusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and consumers in the process. The German automaker has convicted the United States of conspiracy to defraud, wire fraud and violating clean air laws.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $ 2.8 billion to settle that criminal case and another বিল 1 billion to settle civil lawsuits and lawsuits from vehicle owners and state officials.

The FCA, meanwhile, has spoken to senior judicial officials in recent months to push the company back against the conviction claim, people familiar with the matter said.

The automaker has instead argued in favor of a so-called delayed prosecution deal, they said. In such an agreement, a company is criminally charged and agrees to oversight and other terms rather than conviction. If the company complies with the agreement, prosecutors later ask a judge to dismiss the complaint.

Judicial officials declined the FCA’s request for more humble treatment.

In discussions with U.S. prosecutors, the FCA insisted on the Automaker’s January 2019 agreement to pay the judiciary, state officials and consumers about m 800m to settle civil lawsuits, alleging that they evaded the company’s vehicle emissions requirements.

Separately, the FCA this year resolved legal claims from customers who came out of a previous settlement with consumers, according to court records.





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