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VW pleads guilty in emissions-cheating case

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, a Volkswagen Touareg diesel is tested in the Environmental Protection Agency's cold temperature test facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. The imminent criminal plea deal between Volkswagen and U.S. prosecutors in an emissions-cheating scandal could be bad news for one group of people: VW employees who had a role in the deceit or subsequent cover-up. VW on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, disclosed that it is in advanced talks to settle the criminal case by pleading guilty to unspecified charges and paying $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines, a sum far larger than any recent case involving the auto industry. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to cheating the U.S. government by using software to evade emission rules in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.

The German automaker pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and an import crime. It was represented in Detroit federal court by its general counsel, Manfred Doess.

The deal was made weeks ago. VW has agreed to pay a $4.3 billion penalty, although the scandal has cost the company about $21 billion.

The company admitted installing software that activated pollution controls during government tests and switched them off during regular driving.

U.S. regulators confronted VW about the software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions. Volkswagen denied the use of the so-called defeat device but finally admitted it in September 2015.

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