Sen. Bill Nelson, in a scathing speech on the Senate floor, said Tuesday the latest scandal involving deceptive auto industry practices should result in criminal charges and regulatory reform.
The Florida Democrat's comments came as President Barack Obama's administration ordered Volkswagen last week to recall at least half a million cars amid accusations the German manufacturer installed software to cheat on emissions tests. The company admitted Tuesday the deceptive software could impact as many as 11 million cars worldwide. Nelson said it was time for jail terms, not fines.
"I lay this not only on the corporate culture, I lay it at the feet of the U.S. regulatory agencies who ought to be doing their job, ought to be doing it in a forceful way, and then there ought to be some prosecutions and corporate executives that knew this and have done it ought to be going to jail," Nelson said.
"Where are our U.S. regulatory agencies? What is the Obama administration doing about this in its regulatory agencies? Why are they not dropping the hammer on corporations and corporate executives that are purposely deceiving the American people about faulty automobile products that cause the loss of lives and property?"
Another senator, Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, called for a "full and thorough" investigation by the Justice Department.
Volkswagen scrambled Tuesday to control worldwide damage from the scandal, with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn promising to cooperate fully with government officials and the company announcing plans to set aside half a year's worth of profits — about $7.3 billion, according to the New York Times — to fix the cars, pay fines and settle an anticipated flood of lawsuits.
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