Finance

Years in Prison for Former Top Volkswagen Manager

Years in Prison for Former Top Volkswagen Manager

A federal judge in Detroit sentenced former Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt to seven years in prison and fined him $400,000 for his role in the company's emissions scandal.

The prison sentence and $400,000 United States fine for Schmidt were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox handed down the sentence at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit.

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Oliver Schmidt has also been fined $400,000.

Schmidt, a German citizen who lived in Detroit as an emissions compliance executive for VW, was arrested in Miami on vacation last January. Only one other VW employee has been sentenced in connection with the emissions scandal: former engineer James Liang, who received 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release as the result of his plea deal.

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Schmidt has agreed to be deported back to Germany after his sentenced is completed. Although six other VW Group executives have been indicted, none are in United States custody.

VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 USA vehicles and 100,000 in Canada. As VW Group rolled out its massive "clean diesel" marketing campaign appealing to environmentally conscious auto buyers, those same cars were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) many times in excess of the legal limit.

Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme.

"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.

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

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