Volkswagen recently agreed to pay $15 billion to settle some of the allegations involving the carmaker’s use of so-called “defeat devices” to cheat on emissions tests in diesel cars, but a new report says federal criminal charges could be in the offing for VW. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Justice Department investigators turned up evidence of criminal wrongdoing at VW, and now prosecutors and the car company are in preliminary discussions on a settlement.

Sources say that VW and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit and the Justice Department’s fraud and environmental crimes sections are expected to announced the settlement by the end of the year, but that timeline could be pushed back.




As a result of the discussions, sources say VW could plead guilty or prosecutors can seek a deferred prosecution agreement that would essentially wipe out the charges if the carmaker adheres to settlement terms for a certain amount of time.

Deferred prosecution has been used several times in recent years when it comes to criminal activity from carmakers. Most recently General Motors agreed to the option related to its massive ignition defect.

Still, sources say VW will likely pay more than $1.2 billion in penalties for its wrongdoing. However, the amount of the fine could be lower, as the carmaker is reportedly cooperating with the regulator probe, the WSJ reports.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has said the DOJ is reviewing 1.5 million documents as part of its probe into VW.

U.S. Said to Uncover Evidence of Criminal Acts in VW Probe [The Wall Street Journal]