Volkswagen has admitted conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction of justice and entry of goods by false statement during a hearing in Detroit.
The German car giant’s general counsel Manfred Doess said that the company was "guilty on all three counts" as guilty pleas were entered as part of a $4.3bn (£3.5bn) agreement with the US regulators over the diesel emissions scandal on Friday.
Doess said the criminal acts occurred in both Germany and the United States, stating that vehicles were fitted with illegal software which allowed them to cheat emissions tests over a six-year period.
The BBC reported that John Neal, an assistant US attorney, told the US district court that the scheme "was a well thought-out, planned offensive that went to the top of the organisation".
Volkswagen’s plea agreement includes a $2.8 billion criminal fine.
The group has also agreed to an additional $1.5 billion civil penalty to settle the US investigation on top of previous civil settlements with consumers, regulators, dealers and state attorneys general that could cost more than $20 billion.