U.S. judge grants preliminary approval to $48 million Volkswagen investor settlement

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A U.S. judge in California has okayed preliminary approval to a $48 million settlement for investors who stated Volkswagen AG made incorrect and misleading statements about its excess diesel emissions.

Lawyers for the investors, who include police and other municipal pension funds, had calculated that the highest they could have recovered was $147 million. However Judge Charles Breyer stated the settlement agreed in August seemed “fair, adequate and reasonable”.

VW, in a statement, stated on Friday that the “proposed settlement agreement eliminates the uncertainty and considerable prices of protracted litigation in the United States and is in the best interests of the company”. The ruling was issued on Wednesday.

Overall, Volkswagen has agreed to pay over $25 billion in the United States for claims from car owners, environmental regulators, states and car dealers, and has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting vehicles in the US. The buybacks will continue through next year.

The German automaker accepted in September 2015 to secretly installing software in almost 500,000 U.S. cars to cheat government exhaust emissions tests. The vehicles had emitted about 40 times the legally permitted pollutants.

In last year, VW also pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and misleading statements in a U.S. court. Under the plea deal, the automaker agreed to numerous reforms, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years.

Federal prosecutors in Detroit unsealed criminal charges in May against former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who stays in Germany. Two other former VW executives have pleaded guilty in the investigation and are in jail. Overall, nine people have been charged in the United States.

Breyer set a date for a fairness hearing to welcome further comment on the August settlement for May 10, after which a last ruling will be issued.

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