Ex-VW Official Admits Role in Emissions Cheating

  • Ex-VW Official Admits Role in Emissions Cheating

Ex-VW Official Admits Role in Emissions Cheating

A German Volkswagen executive pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and fraud charges in Detroit in a scheme to cheat emission rules on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Six executives of the company including Oliver Schmidt were charged in January this year for their role in the scandal.

Oliver Schmidt is due in U.S. District Court on Friday.

As part of his guilty plea, Schmidt admitted that he agreed with other VW employees to mislead and defraud the US and domestic customers who purchased diesel vehicles, and to violate the Clean Air Act. The agreement requires he be deported from the USA after completing his prison sentence. As part of his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop most of the counts and Schmidt consented to be deported at the end of his prison sentence.

"As part of the plea, VW agreed to pay a $2.8 billion penalty as a result of the company's decade-long scheme to sell diesel vehicles containing software created to cheat on USA emissions tests", the Department of Justice said in a statement.

In 2015, the company admitted that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide were equipped with software that could be used to cheat on emissions tests.

A spokesperson for VW said that the automaker is continuing to cooperate with officials from the Justice Department probes of different individuals, but would not comment any further.

"In the summer of 2015, Schmidt participated in discussions with other VW employees about how they could answer questions posed by United States regulators. without revealing the defeat device", the plea agreement said.

He reported directly to Heinz-Jakob Neusser, the former head of engine development at VW, who is among several other executives to be charged in the massive dieselgate scandal, which has grown to include various auto-parts distributors in the automotive industry. The engineer told the judge he "omitted information about how VW intentionally installed defeat devices" during August 2015 discussions with regulators who had been probing the high output of pollutants from Volkswagen vehicles.

Honolulu Volkswagen has been named as one of the best dealerships to work for in the US and Canada. In the ensuing months, Mr. Schmidt proceeded to hide Volkswagen's use of the software from regulators, and he knew of fraudulent reports on vehicle emissions submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the plea agreement. Moreover, Schmidt knew that VW was falsely marketing diesel vehicles to the USA public as being environmentally friendly and compliant with US environmental regulations, including by promoting increased fuel economy, he admitted.

Most of the Volkswagen executives charged are in Germany and may not travel to the United States since Germany typically does not extradite its citizens. James Liang pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, is cooperating with prosecutors and will be sentenced on August 25.