Jan 11, 2017

Volkswagen fined $4.3B for cheating emissions tests

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Volkswagen pled guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit fraud against the U.S. and Volkswagen's American customers, customs fraud and violations of the Clean Air Act.

The automaker agreed to pay a $4.3 billion fine and to submit to the oversight of an independent monitor for at least three years.

The Justice Department also announced the indictment of six individual Volkswagen executives and engineers who were allegedly responsible for the fraudulent behavior.

What did they do? VW promised to deliver an affordable "clean diesel" engine that could pass American emission standards, which were raised in 2007. When engineers realized that they couldn't accomplish this feat at an attractive price point, they devised a way to cheat the emissions test.

Our take: This will be a PR coup for the Justice Department, which has been criticized for failing to convict felonious corporations or to go after individuals inside those companies responsible for offending behavior. This accomplishes both.

VW's response: They're shrugging it off. Chinese customers helped them boost car sales 3.8% last year.

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Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

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Wall Street falls into correction territory as coronavirus rout intensifies

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

The S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq all entered correction territory on Thursday, down 10% from their recent record highs amid a global market rout that began earlier this week.

The big picture: Stocks fell 3% for a time on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world, according to CNBC.

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.