We often moan if we’re stuck with a £50 parking fine. But, just imagine how Volkswagen feel at the moment, facing up to $18 billion in company fines. It’s impossible to ignore the media frenzy around the Volkswagen scandal. The emissions swindle has already destroyed their share price and sent ripples through the economy. But, it’s the potential fine that will worry shareholders the most. With this high-profile case all over the news, we thought we’d look at some of the biggest corporate fines in history.
Big Tobacco – $206 billion
Back in 1998, the US government lead the charge on the biggest civil settlement in US history. Statistics showed that cigarettes and the tobacco industry were putting an immense strain on the US healthcare system. The US government took them to court to the tune of more than $200 billion to compensate the health system. Not only that, but tobacco companies agreed to change the way they marketed their products. The tobacco industry is now very careful to highlight the dangers of smoking.
JP Morgan – $13 billion
In the run-up to the subprime mortgage collapse in 2006, banks and mortgage lenders were worried. They could see the forthcoming bubble was about to burst, and they began acting suspiciously. The banks began misleading their investors about the state of the market. They were even selling faulty and dangerous mortgage products. This was, in fact, one of the triggers for the financial crash. Once the dust had settled, JP Morgan paid a $13 billion settlement to cease investigations. Other banks including Citigroup and RBS were also fined.
Barclays – £2 billion
In the UK last year, Barclays was handed the biggest ever fine in FCA history. While the USA is no stranger to enormous settlements, £2 billion is unprecedented in the UK. The reason? Complex rigging of the forex markets. The bank was accused of failing to apply effective controls over the foreign exchange markets. Barclays is still paying the fine to a variety of different financial authorities.
BP Oil – $4 billion
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. It killed 11 employees and injured a further 16 who were on the rig. The subsequent oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico was considered the largest environmental disaster in US history. What followed was one of the most complex criminal investigations of all time. In the end, BP agreed to settle at $4 billion in reparations to avoid manslaughter charges.
Volkswagen – $18 billion potentially
The dust is still settling on this high-profile case, and we are still unsure of the full scale of the deception. Volkswagen was found to have installed detection devices that reduced emissions readings. The device would detect when it was under test conditions, and respond with lower emissions rates. Early signs suggest that 11 million cars are fitted with the device, and the scale of the problem is enormous. The Volkswagen CEO has already resigned, but the full corporate fine will follow shortly.
Corporate deception is difficult to hide on a large scale. Eventually, the enormous fines will hit hard!
DISCLAIMER: These articles are for information only and should not be construed as advice. You should always seek advice prior to taking any action.