Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft ordered to pay $196.5 million fine after pleading guilty to 60 charges for offences under federal environmental legislation
January 22, 2020 – Toronto, Ontario
The Government of Canada takes the health and safety of Canadians and our environment very seriously. We are committed to clean transportation and to working to make sure Canadians have clean air and healthier communities. We are also committed to enforcing the laws that protect Canada’s environment and the health of Canadians.
Today, in the Ontario Court of Justice, Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (Volkswagen AG), a German-based car manufacturer, was ordered to pay an unprecedented $196.5 million fine after pleading guilty to 60 charges for offences under federal environmental legislation. Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to 58 counts of contravening section 154 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 by unlawfully importing into Canada vehicles that do not conform to prescribed vehicle emissions standards, which is an offence under paragraph 272(1)(a) of the Act. The company also pleaded guilty to two counts of providing misleading information, an offence under paragraph 272(1)(k) of the Act. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
In September 2015, Environment and Climate Change Canada launched an investigation regarding the importation into Canada of certain vehicle models that were allegedly equipped with a prohibited “defeat device”. The defeat device consists of software that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal vehicle operation and use.
The investigation, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch, involved a thorough and meticulous gathering of evidence and information relevant to a suspected violation of the federal On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations under which defeat devices are regulated. The investigation revealed that between January 2008 and December 2015, the company imported into Canada nearly 128,000 two- and three-litre diesel engine Volkswagen and Audi vehicles equipped with defeat devices. It also revealed that the use of software to reduce the effectiveness of the emission control systems involved significant deception and showed that the company knowingly circumvented national vehicle emissions regulations.
As a result of the conviction, Volkswagen AG will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. The registry contains information on convictions of corporations for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has created a free subscription service to help Canadians stay current with what the Government of Canada is doing to protect our natural environment.
Transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases in Canada.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is an important part of Canada's federal environmental legislation aimed at preventing pollution and protecting the environment and human health. The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations are made under the authority of this Act. The regulations are part of an integrated strategy to reduce smog caused by the emission of air pollutants from vehicles and help ensure cleaner air for Canadians.
The investigation was supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada Transportation Division’s enhanced compliance verification program, which confirmed the presence of the defeat devices on vehicles that were subject to testing.
The investigation of this case involved the support of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the cooperation of domestic and international agencies including the United States Department of Justice and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Damages Fund is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. It was created in 1995 to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our natural environment.
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement for the Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and Other Regulations Made Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Environmental Damages Fund
- Environmental Offenders Registry
Environment and Climate Change Canada
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