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Fiat Chrysler is approaching an agreement on emissions fraud in the United States



(Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is approaching an agreement to plead guilty to criminal misconduct to solve a multi-year emission fraud investigation into Ram pickups and Jeep sports cars with diesel engines, said people familiar with the matter. [19659002]] FCA attorneys and officials at the U.S. Department of Justice mediate a lawsuit that could be revealed in the coming weeks and include financial sanctions totaling between $ 250 million and $ 300 million, the people said.

Such a solution would come in more than four years after Volkswagen. AG pleaded guilty to criminal charges of solving its own diesel emission scandal involving nearly 600,000 vehicles.

The FCA investigation focuses on approximately 1

00,000 diesel-powered vehicles that are alleged to have escaped the emission requirements. The professional negotiations are fluid and certain conditions, including the size of any financial penalties, may change as discussions continue, the people said. and also give an outsider a chance that the agreement will fall apart, the people said.

An agreement would cover a series of investigations dating back to 2015 on diesel vehicles in the FCA's US range. The current criminal investigation is directed at the American unit for the Italian-American car manufacturer, which is now part of Stellantis NV. The affected vehicles span the 2014 to 2016 model years.

Representatives of FCA parent Stellantis and the Department of Justice declined to comment.

Discussions are heated as one of FCA's employees prepares for trial next year on charges misled regulatory authorities about vehicle pollution, and continued the fraud even after officials caught Volkswagen cheating with state emission tests.

In April, the Justice Department revealed charges against two more FCA employees for the alleged emission fraud. Italian authorities arrested one of the two additional employees in September.

An indictment alleges that the employees conspired to install illegal software known as crash devices in vehicles so that they could defraud the authorities' emissions tests and then pollute across legal boundaries on roads. [19659002] The FCA has previously resolved related civil law allegations while denying that it deliberately tried to cheat on emission tests.

Other legal issues have also haunted the carmaker. In March, the company pleaded guilty to violations of U.S. labor law and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make unlawful payments to union officials. The company sealed a merger with French Peugeot manufacturer PSA earlier this year to form Stellantis. In September, Stellantis announced that FCA's former chief executive would resign to become chief executive of AutoNation Inc., the U.S.'s largest retailer.

Volkswagen acknowledged that they had cheated government emissions tests on diesel vehicles, and in the process misled the US Environmental Protection Agency and customers. The German carmaker pleaded guilty to, among other things, conspiracy to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act.

Volkswagen agreed to pay $ 2.8 billion to solve that criminal case, and billions of dollars more to solve the civil justice ministry. accusations and lawsuits from vehicle owners and government officials.

In recent months, the FCA has spoken with senior Justice Department officials to repel a claim that the company pleads guilty, said insiders.

The automaker argued instead of a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, the people said. In such agreements, a company is criminally charged and agrees to supervision and other conditions instead of admitting guilt. If the company follows the agreement, prosecutors will later ask a judge to dismiss the allegations.

Justice Department officials rejected the FCA's request for a lenient treatment.

dollars to settle civil disputes brought by the Department of Justice, government officials and consumers claiming that the company's vehicles have escaped emission claims, said one of the individuals.

according to court records.


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