VW ex­ec­u­tive pleads guilty in ‘diesel­gate’ scan­dal

New Straits Times - - Business -

DETROIT: Oliver Schmidt, a Volk­swa­gen AG (VW) com­pli­ance ex­ec­u­tive charged in the com­pany’s emis­sions-cheat­ing scan­dal, pleaded guilty in fed­eral court, here, yes­ter­day to con­spir­acy and vi­o­lat­ing the United States Clean Air Act.

Schmidt faces up to seven years in prison, said District judge Sean Cox, with sen­tenc­ing sched­uled for De­cem­ber 6. Schmidt agreed to be de­ported af­ter he has com­pleted his sen­tence, said Cox.

Schmidt’s plea is the lat­est fall­out stem­ming from VW’s ad­mis­sion in Septem­ber 2015 that about 11 mil­lion diesel ve­hi­cles world­wide were out­fit­ted with so-called de­feat de­vices to cheat emis­sions tests.

VW at­tempted to boost sales by of­fer­ing “clean diesel” that would meet height­ened emis­sions stan­dards and at­tract en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious cus­tomers. The com­pany couldn’t sell ve­hi­cles in the US with­out cer­ti­fy­ing they met the emis­sions stan­dards and couldn’t meet the stan­dards with its diesel ve­hi­cles with­out cheat­ing.

The scan­dal has al­ready cost the com­pany more than US$24 bil­lion (RM102.68 bil­lion) to set­tle US civil and crim­i­nal claims. That in­cludes VW’s agree­ment to pay US$4.3 bil­lion in penal­ties to re­solve the fed­eral crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and plead guilty to us­ing false state­ments to im­port cars in the US and ob­struct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Schmidt, 48, is one of eight VW or Audi ex­ec­u­tives crim­i­nally charged in the US for their al­leged roles in the scheme. Five VW ex­ec­u­tives based in Ger­many were in­dicted along with Schmidt and a for­mer Audi man­ager was charged last month.

Schmidt, a Ger­man na­tional, is the most-se­nior VW ex­ec­u­tive to plead guilty. Last Septem­ber, Volk­swa­gen en­gi­neer James Liang pleaded guilty for his role in im­ple­ment­ing soft­ware that would cheat US emis­sions tests.

Liang, who is co­op­er­at­ing with pros­e­cu­tors, is sched­uled to be sen­tenced on Au­gust 25. Bloomberg

Oliver Schmidt

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