Duped in Volk­swa­gen case, exec says

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

A Volk­swa­gen ex­ec­u­tive ac­cused of help­ing cover up the car­maker’s emis­sions fraud is ar­gu­ing that he was a mi­nor player mis­led by com­pany lawyers and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ists.

The de­fense of­fered by Oliver Sch­midt, which was laid out in court doc­u­ments filed late Fri­day, could fore­shadow his fel­low de­fen­dants’ strate­gies as the emis­sions scan­dal en­ters a new phase fo­cused on crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

Other Volk­swa­gen em­ploy­ees may ar­gue that they were trapped in a vast cor­po­rate con­spir­acy, por­tray­ing them­selves, like Sch­midt, as more vic­tim than per­pe­tra­tor. Such an ap­proach could im­plic­itly shift at­ten­tion to top man­agers as Volk­swa­gen tries to re­build its rep­u­ta­tion, stop a de­cline in its Euro­pean mar­ket share and cope with tech­no­log­i­cal shifts in the auto in­dus­try.

Volk­swa­gen pleaded guilty in Jan­uary to crim­i­nal charges in the United States re­lated to the emis­sions cheat­ing. Sch­midt is one of six cur­rent or for­mer Volk­swa­gen em­ploy­ees in­dicted in the United States, and the only one in cus­tody; the oth­ers are in Ger­many.

U.S. fed­eral prose­cu­tors have ac­cused Sch­midt, a 48-year-old Ger­man, of know­ingly pro­vid­ing false in­for­ma­tion to U.S. reg­u­la­tors af­ter they be­came sus­pi­cious about the emis­sions of Volk­swa­gen diesel ve­hi­cles in early 2014.

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