It got caught cheating and continues to pay a price -- a very heavy price -- for that transgression.
"It" is the German automaker Volkswagen, and the aforementioned exaction now suffocating the company is of nearly unprecedented proportions.
As in billions of dollars that are ever-mounting, with a final price tag tied to the company's global vehicle emissions scandal being currently indeterminable.
One thing is certain, though: The money being demanded of the company by regulators and courts is being routinely readjusted and already astronomically high.
There seems to be little question that the penalties being piled on Volkswagen are fueled (no pun intended) by a total lack of sympathy from a general public -- both in the United States and in other countries where Volkswagen operates -- that has been sorely defrauded by the company's bad-faith conduct. The result for consumers affected by falsified VW emissions data is that they received discounted value for the cash they surrendered in transactions with the company.
Unquestionably, VW would like to turn the clock back to a time predating its fateful decision to purposefully deceive the public. Class-action litigation grounded in consumer fraud has resulted in many billions of dollars lost by the company, with additional litigation still playing out in the United States.
And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for Volkswagen. Bad news continues to emerge, such as the recent announcement from Germany that a court there is allowing that country's version of a class-action filing to move forward. Many hundreds of litigants are expected to be class members, with it being reported that VW could eventually be on the hook for more than $8 billion in damages.
That figure is in addition to the $18 billion-plus penalty the company has already been slapped with by American authorities.
The fallout continues forcefully, with no end in sight. The VW scandal is instructive for spotlighting both the degree to which fraudulent business activity can occur and the potential harshness of the public's response to it, respectively.