Volkswagen exec gets seven years in prison over emissions scandal

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Oliver Schmidt, the Volkswagen official has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and charged a fine of $400,000.

Schmidt, who had returned to Germany, was arrested in Florida in January after attempting to return home from a vacation following the filing of an Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint. Schmidt previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act and conspiring to defraud the United States government in August for his role in Dieselgate.

Schmidt, who led Volkswagen's U.S. regulatory compliance office from 2012 to March 2015, was also ordered by a federal judge in Detroit to pay a $400,000 fine.

Right from the time when Volkswagen's scheme was exposed, the auto-company had said yes to paying billions to settle the criminal and civil lawsuit in the US. The first employee, former engineer James Laing, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and a $200,000 fine, in August.

Instead, Schmidt was sentenced to the maximum penalties outlined in the plea deal.


The software reduced harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide when the cars were being tested, but on the road, the emissions were well over limits to control pollution.

"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States", U.S. District Judge Sean Cox told Schmidt, according to a Reuters account of the proceeding.

Germany's largest automaker is recovering from the emissions crisis that prompted its then-CEO, Martin Winterkorn, to resign in September of 2015 after nearly a decade at the company's helm.

Although the initial stages of the scheme to goose emissions numbers started as early as 2004 at Audi, Schmidt and his lawyers assert that the executive only found out about the software in the summer of 2015, a few months before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public VW Group's violation.

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