Volkswagen has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a record $4.3 billion (£3.5bn) in fines to settle the diesel emissions cheating scandal.
That includes $2.8 billion (£2.3bn) in criminal fines and $1.5 billion (£1.2bn) in civil penalties.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said Volkswagen used defeat devices to cheat on emissions tests mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency and lied and obstructed justice to further the scheme.
The car manufacturer is pleading guilty to “participating in a conspiracy to defraud” the US and its customers as well as violating the Clean Air Act by using cheating software in its cars.
It is also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme and importing the cars into the US “by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits”.
Volkswagen will be on probation for three years, under an independent corporate compliance monitor who will oversee the company.
It has agreed to co-operate with the DoJ’s investigation and prosecution of those involved in the crimes.
The news comes after US authorities charged six VW executives and employees for their roles in the “nearly 10-year conspiracy”, including an arrest last Saturday.
Attorney General Lynch said: “Volkswagen’s attempts to dodge emissions standards and import falsely certified vehicles into the country represent an egregious violation of our nation’s environmental, consumer protection and financial.
“In the days ahead, we will continue to examine Volkswagen’s attempts to mislead consumers and deceive the government. And we will continue to pursue the individuals responsible for orchestrating this damaging conspiracy.”
Volkswagen said it “deeply regrets” the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis.
Matthias Müller, Chief Executive of Volkswagen Group, added: “Since all of this came to light, we have worked tirelessly to make things right for our affected customers and have already achieved some progress on this path. The agreements that we have reached with the US government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. They are an important step forward for our company and all our employees.”
In the UK, more than 10,000 motorists are to challenge Volkswagen in court in the aftermath of its emissions scandal.
The country is among seven nations facing legal action from the European Commission over the fraud.