VW executive pleads guilty in ‘dieselgate’ scandal
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