Kenneth Feinberg wants to begin compensating nearly 600,000 VW diesel owners in the US, and he expects practically all of them would accept his proposed settlement. However, the lawyer can't begin the claims process until the German automaker works out a repair with environmental regulators.

"My hands are tied as long as VW and the authorities have not overcome their differences," Feinberg told a German newspaper, according to Reuters.

Feinberg indicated that he didn't yet know specifics about the compensation program, but said VW gave him the independence to devise the best solution. He wants the amount to be significant enough that most of those affected will accept. "Look at my prior cases: 97 percent of the victims of Sept. 11 accepted my offer. At GM and BP it was more than 90 percent, too. That has to be my target for VW," he said to Reuters.

VW's scandal hasn't had the deadly consequences of some of his previous cases. Therefore, Feinberg expects owners to be calmer when working out the claims. "It is a purely business transaction, less emotional," he told Reuters.

The latest decisions by environmental regulators suggest that Feinberg might have a long wait before he can begin accepting claims. The California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency already rejected VW's fix for the 2.0-liter diesel because the automaker's repair description was too vague. The California agency also recently began considering the 3.0-liter V6's solution, but a final verdict wasn't due for weeks.

Even after VW compensates owners in the US and fixes their vehicles, the automaker could face criminal charges from the Justice Department. According to Bloomberg, government lawyers are upset that VW lied to CARB and the EPA for a year, while the agencies investigated the company's diesel emissions. The automaker claimed the pollution came from technical issues and made no mention of the software defeat device. The dishonesty during a government inquiry could be enough for criminal allegations, in addition to the civil claims.

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