Volkswagen admits emissions cheating and cover-up, will pay US $4.3B

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)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Volkswagen is pleading guilty to three criminal charges and will pay $4.3 billion to the U.S. government for cheating on emissions tests and destroying evidence in an elaborate cover-up.

The penalty is the largest against an automaker in U.S. history.

The government also said a grand jury has returned an indictment against six VW executives and employees for their roles in the scheme.

This undated photo provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows Oliver Schmidt under arrest on Jan. 7, 2017. Schmidt, the general manager of the engineering and environmental office for Volkswagen America, was arrested in connection with the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)
This undated photo provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows Oliver Schmidt under arrest on Jan. 7, 2017. Schmidt, the general manager of the engineering and environmental office for Volkswagen America, was arrested in connection with the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

The deal announced Wednesday also requires VW to cooperate in an ongoing probe that could lead to the arrest of more employees.

Government documents accuse six VW supervisors of lying to environmental regulators or destroying computer files containing evidence.

VW admitted programming diesel engines to turn on pollution controls during government tests and switch them off in real-world driving.