Business News

Volkswagen told to pay $4.3-billion fine in emissions cheating case

A US federal court charged six former executives of the German automaker with fraud in connection with the 2015 matter.

A federal court in Washington indicted six Volkswagen executives and imposed a penalty of $4.3 billion (Rs 28,000 crore approximately) on the company on Wednesday in connection with the 2015 emissions cheating scandal. This is the highest fine imposed by the government on any automaker, reported Associated Press. In 2014, Toyota was levied a $1.2-billion (Rs 7,000 crore approximately) penalty in a safety issues case.

Besides, Volkswagen has agreed to appoint an independent monitor to supervise control measures over the next three years. The government said that although Volkswagen had publicly admitted to the fraud on September 18 last year, its employees continued to delete computer files and other proof. “Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied and they ultimately lied,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Company employees have been asked to cooperate with ongoing investigations. The United States Justice Department said at least 40 Volkswagen employees were involved in destroying evidence of the fraud. More employees could be arrested in the coming days.

The six employees indicted include a former head of development of the Volkswagen brand and the head of engine development. While Oliver Schmidt, one of the six convicts, was arrested in Florida, last week, the others are likely in Germany, reported The New York Times.

The company has terminated several top executives after the scandal came to the fore, reported Washington Post. However, a company spokesperson refused to comment on the employment status of the six indicted employees.

The German automaker had fitted as many as six lakh cars in US with a software to fool emissions tests. Investigators said that the cars emitted more than 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

Emissions discrepancies in Volkswagen cars were first identified in 2014 during a research conducted by West Virginia University. The case came to light in August 2015 when a company employee defied supervisors and informed US regulators about the software.

Wednesday’s verdict brings Volkswagen’s total fines to around $20 billion (Rs 1,33,000 crore approximately), reported Washington Post. In June last year, Volkswagen had reached a deal with US regulators to pay up to $14.7 billion (nearly Rs 9.98 lakh crore) and compensate owners of vehicles affected by its diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The German automaker had said it would either repair or buy back polluting vehicles and pay each owner $10,000 (approximately Rs 6.8 lakh). The deal set aside $10 billion to repair or buy back around 4,75,000 polluting Volkswagen vehicles and to compensate each owner with an additional payment of between $5,100 (approximately Rs 3.5 lakh) and $10,000.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

In a first, some of the finest Indian theatre can now be seen on your screen

A new cinematic production brings to life thought-provoking plays as digital video.

Though we are a country besotted with cinema, theatre remains an original source of provocative stories, great actors, and the many deeply rooted traditions of the dramatic arts across India. CinePlay is a new, ambitious experiment to bring the two forms together.

These plays, ‘filmed’ as digital video, span classic drama genre as well as more experimental dark comedy and are available on Hotstar premium, as part of Hotstar’s Originals bouquet. “We love breaking norms. And CinePlay is an example of us serving our consumer’s multi-dimensional personality and trusting them to enjoy better stories, those that not only entertain but also tease the mind”, says Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar.

The first collection of CinePlays feature stories from leading playwrights, like Vijay Tendulkar, Mahesh Dattani, Badal Sircar amongst others and directed by film directors like Santosh Sivan and Nagesh Kukunoor. They also star some of the most prolific names of the film and theatre world like Nandita Das, Shreyas Talpade, Saurabh Shukla, Mohan Agashe and Lillete Dubey.

The idea was conceptualised by Subodh Maskara and Nandita Das, the actor and director who had early experience with street theatre. “The conversation began with Subodh and me thinking how can we make theatre accessible to a lot more people” says Nandita Das. The philosophy is that ‘filmed’ theatre is a new form, not a replacement, and has the potential to reach millions instead of thousands of people. Hotstar takes the reach of these plays to theatre lovers across the country and also to newer audiences who may never have had access to quality theatre.

“CinePlay is merging the language of theatre and the language of cinema to create a third unique language” says Subodh. The technique for ‘filming’ plays has evolved after many iterations. Each play is shot over several days in a studio with multiple takes, and many angles just like cinema. Cinematic techniques such as light and sound effects are also used to enhance the drama. Since it combines the intimacy of theatre with the format of cinema, actors and directors have also had to adapt. “It was quite intimidating. Suddenly you have to take something that already exists, put some more creativity into it, some more of your own style, your own vision and not lose the essence” says Ritesh Menon who directed ‘Between the Lines’. Written by Nandita Das, the play is set in contemporary urban India with a lawyer couple as its protagonists. The couple ends up arguing on opposite sides of a criminal trial and the play delves into the tension it brings to their personal and professional lives.

Play

The actors too adapted their performance from the demands of the theatre to the requirements of a studio. While in the theatre, performers have to project their voice to reach a thousand odd members in the live audience, they now had the flexibility of being more understated. Namit Das, a popular television actor, who acts in the CinePlay ‘Bombay Talkies’ says, “It’s actually a film but yet we keep the characteristics of the play alive. For the camera, I can say, I need to tone down a lot.” Vickram Kapadia’s ‘Bombay Talkies’ takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions as seven personal stories unravel through powerful monologues, touching poignant themes such as child abuse, ridicule from a spouse, sacrifice, disillusionment and regret.

The new format also brought many new opportunities. In the play “Sometimes”, a dark comedy about three stressful days in a young urban professional’s life, the entire stage was designed to resemble a clock. The director Akarsh Khurana, was able to effectively recreate the same effect with light and sound design, and enhance it for on-screen viewers. In another comedy “The Job”, presented earlier in theatre as “The Interview”, viewers get to intimately observe, as the camera zooms in, the sinister expressions of the interviewers of a young man interviewing for a coveted job.

Besides the advantages of cinematic techniques, many of the artists also believe it will add to the longevity of plays and breathe new life into theatre as a medium. Adhir Bhat, the writer of ‘Sometimes’ says, “You make something and do a certain amount of shows and after that it phases out, but with this it can remain there.”

This should be welcome news, even for traditionalists, because unlike mainstream media, theatre speaks in and for alternative voices. Many of the plays in the collection are by Vijay Tendulkar, the man whose ability to speak truth to power and society is something a whole generation of Indians have not had a chance to experience. That alone should be reason enough to cheer for the whole project.

Play

Hotstar, India’s largest premium streaming platform, stands out with its Originals bouquet bringing completely new formats and stories, such as these plays, to its viewers. Twenty timeless stories from theatre will be available to its subscribers. Five CinePlays, “Between the lines”, “The Job”, “Sometimes”, “Bombay Talkies” and “Typecast”, are already available and a new one will release every week starting March. To watch these on Hotstar Premium, click here.

This article was produced on behalf of Hotstar by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.