On January 11, 2017, DHS Deputy Secretary Russell Deyo and CBP Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan joined Attorney General Loretta Lynch in announcing a criminal and civil settlement against Volkswagen, totaling $4.3 billion. VW entities violated criminal and civil customs laws by knowingly submitting to CBP material false statements and omitting material information, over multiple years, with the intent of deceiving or misleading CBP concerning the admissibility of vehicles into the United States. CBP enforces U.S. customs laws as well as numerous laws on behalf of other governmental agencies related to health, safety, and border security. At the time of importation, VW falsely represented to CBP that nearly 590,000 imported vehicles complied with all applicable environmental laws, knowing those representations to be untrue. CBP’s relationship with the importing community is one based on trust, and this resolution demonstrates that CBP will not tolerate abrogation of that trust or violations of the customs laws.
As part of the deal, Volkswagen agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts, including one for importing these cars into the U.S. by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions, and to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty. Volkswagen and CBP also agreed on a civil settlement to resolve civil fraud claims asserted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Volkswagen agreed to pay $1.45 billion, to resolve claims held by both CBP and EPA, marking the largest civil penalty ever issued or collected under the customs laws in U.S. history.
“Blatant violations of U.S. customs and environmental laws will not be tolerated, and this case reinforces that,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Deyo. “These actions put our economy, consumers and citizens at risk, and the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to take every step necessary to protect the American people.”