Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Volkswagen Executive to Be Sentenced in US Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen Executive to Be Sentenced in US Emissions Scandal

On Wednesday, a US District judge in Detroit sentenced Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, to seven years in prison for his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015.

He pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act and faced a maximum possible sentence of seven years in prison and a fine ranging from $40,000 to $400,000.

Schmidt, former senior manager of Volkswagen's US Environment and Engineering Office, downplayed his role in the scheme in court papers filed last week asking Judge Cox to limit his sentence.

To view the full article, register now. But Judge Sean Cox sided with prosecutors, calling Schmidt a "key conspirator" who viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to "shine" and "climb the corporate ladder". Liang, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy previous year and has been cooperating with prosecutors, has appealed his sentence. He hid the software tricks from California regulators and gave up phony explanations for differences in emissions, prosecutors contended.

Schmidt ran VW's US engineering and environmental office from 2012 through early 2015 and was responsible for obtaining regulatory approval for VW vehicles sold in the U.S. The government says he later misled US investigators and destroyed documents. But his lawyers point out that he wasn't involved when the scheme was hatched years earlier by the company.

Schmidt admitted to concealing from regulators Volkswagen's use of illegal software on almost 600,000 vehicles that allowed them to dupe government emissions tests while polluting far beyond legal limits on the road. James Liang, a veteran VW engineer, was sentenced to 40 months in prison in August.

VW pleaded guilty as a corporation in March and agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines.

Instead, Schmidt was sentenced to the maximum penalties outlined in the plea deal. Other Volkswagen executives have been charged in this case, but they remain in Germany, out of reach of American authorities.

"Schmidt sent detailed updates to VW management in Germany apprising them of precisely what he had said, and making it obvious that he was following the script of deception and deceit that VW, with Schmidt's input, had chosen", prosecutors told the court last month.

Like this: