VW ex­ec­u­tive Sch­midt pleads guilty in auto emis­sions scan­dal

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Detroit, US - Oliver Sch­midt, a Volk­swa­gen AG (VW) com­pli­ance ex­ec­u­tive charged in the com­pany’s emis­sions-cheat­ing scan­dal, pleaded guilty on Fri­day in federal court in Detroit to con­spir­acy and vi­o­lat­ing the US Clean Air Act.

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

Sch­midt’s plea is the lat­est fall­out stem­ming from VW’s ad­mis­sion in Septem­ber 2015 that about 11mn 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.

Com­pany costs

claims. That in­cludes VW’s agree­ment to pay US$4.3bn 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 Volk­swa­gen 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. In 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 Au­gust 25.

Sch­midt, who was de­nied bail as a flight risk, has been in US cus­tody since he was ar­rested in Jan­uary while on va­ca­tion in Florida. Sch­midt was ac­cused of con­spir­ing with the com­pany and other in­di­vid­u­als to de­ceive US and Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors and cus­tomers into be­liev­ing VW’s diesel ve­hi­cles com­plied with emis­sions stan­dards.

As reg­u­la­tors were in­ves­ti­gat­ing dis­crep­an­cies in emis­sions from the com­pany’s diesel ve­hi­cles in Au­gust 2015, Sch­midt met with an em­ployee of the Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board and ‘did not dis­close that VW had in­ten­tion­ally in­stalled soft­ware in the sub­ject ve­hi­cles de­signed to cheat and evade emis­sions test­ing’,’ US pros­e­cu­tors said in court pa­pers.

He was also in­volved in pro­vid­ing false state­ments on doc­u­ments re­quired by the Clean Air Act, the US said.

‘Volk­swa­gen con­tin­ues to co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice into the con­duct of in­di­vid­u­als’, the com­pany said in an email.

The scan­dal has al­ready cost the com­pany more than US$24bn to set­tle US civil and crim­i­nal

Oliver Sch­midt

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