Ex-VW exec sentenced to seven years for 'dieselgate'

  • Ex-VW exec sentenced to seven years for 'dieselgate'

Ex-VW exec sentenced to seven years for 'dieselgate'

A Volkswagen manager was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and will pay a $400,000 fine for participating in the German auto giant's emissions fraud, the second employee to face time behind bars in the US for his role in the longstanding conspiracy to deceive government officials and customers.

Schmidt originally faced up to 169 years in prison on 11 felony counts before he entered his guilty plea. Oliver Schmidt had previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act and conspiracy to defraud the USA government in August for his role in Dieselgate, where VW was found to have used hidden software to hide the fact that many of its cars weren't meeting emissions standards.

Schmidt ended up in United States custody somewhat by chance.

Schmidt's lawyer. David DuMouchel of Detroit, asked for a maximum of 40 months in prison and $100,000 fine.

Prosecutors say Schmidt concealed the software tricks to California regulators while offering "bogus" explanations of any differences in emissions.

Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just "read from a script" provided by his superiors at Volkswagen.

Judge Cox earlier this year sentenced Volkswagen Engineer James Liang to 40-months in prison.

Schmidt has agreed to be deported back to Germany after his sentence is completed.

The "dieselgate" scandal has cost Volkswagen as much as $30bn in fines, buybacks and settlements since 2015 when it admitted fitting 11m diesel vehicles worldwide with so-called defeat devices to suppress emissions of nitrogen oxide during tests.

The prison term and an accompanying $400,000 fine were announced at a sentencing hearing today in a US District Court in Detroit.

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Prosecutors say Schmidt, a German national, lied to US environmental authorities, lied to investigators and encouraged others at VW to destroy arguments.

"The defendant has a leadership role within VW", federal officials said. According to the January 2017 complaint against Schmidt, the executive "offered technical reasons and excuses such as "irregularities" or "abnormalities" for the discrepancy without revealing the fundamental reason for the higher NOx measurements on the road: software intentionally installed in VW vehicles so the vehicles could detect and evade emissions testing".