(Adds Canadian prosecutors statement)
By David Shepardson
Jan 22 (Reuters) - A judge in Canada approved a C$196.5 million ($149.7 million) fine against Volkswagen AG on Wednesday after the company pleaded guilty to dozens of counts of diesel emissions violations.
Volkswagen was charged in December with importing nearly 128,000 vehicles into Canada violating emissions standards. VW pleaded guilty after being charged with 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and providing misleading information.
The fine was by far the largest environmental penalty in Canadian history, prosecutors said.
"This resolution serves the public interest. It reflects the gravity of the conduct, and is consistent with Canadian sentencing principles," said prosecutor Tom Lemon in a statement. "This is an unprecedented fine in Canada. It is 26 times greater than the highest federal environmental fine ever imposed."
Prosecutors had proposed the fine to resolve the issue earlier on Wednesday.
"The resolution acknowledges the extensive measures by Volkswagen to make things right in Canada and strengthen its global compliance policies. The payment from the company will be used to support environmental projects nationally and in the provinces across the country," Volkswagen said in a statement.
Volkswagen admitted to using illegal software to cheat U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel vehicles that has so far cost it 30 billion euros ($33.3 billion) in fines, penalties and buyback costs. In May 2019, it set aside an additional 5.5 billion euros in contingent liabilities as it continued to face penalties and lawsuits around the world.
Last week, Poland’s consumer watchdog, UOKiK, said it was fining Volkswagen more than 120 million zlotys ($31.4 million) for misleading customers about the emissions of its vehicles.
Volkswagen previously agreed to spend up to C$2.4 billion ($1.8 billion) to buy back or fix 125,000 polluting diesels and compensate owners in Canada. Volkswagen previously paid C$17.5 million ($13.3 million) in penalties in Canada to resolve a Competition Bureau investigation. ($1 = 1.3131 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)