Ex-VW diesel expert arrested
Charges are filed in Germany, U.S.
BERLIN — German prosecutors said Friday that they have arrested a former employee of the Volkswagen unit Audi in connection with the company’s diesel scandal.
The Munich prosecutors’ office said the man worked in engine development in the southern German city of Neckarsulm and is accused of fraud and unfair advertising.
The prosecutors did not confirm if the individual was Giovanni Pamio, who was accused Thursday by U.S. authorities of giving the orders to program diesel engines to cheat on emissions tests.
Pamio, 60 and an Italian citizen, is a former Audi executive and based in Neckarsulm.
He’s the eighth former Volkswagen employee charged in the case that is being investigated by the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal unit. One of the employees is scheduled for sentencing this month, another is in custody in the U.S. and five others are German citizens.
Pamio can be extradited to the United States, although any German inves-
tigation would take precedence over the U.S. charges.
“Prosecutors won’t agree to an extradition as long as their own probe here hasn’t been finalized,” said Oliver Wallasch, a Frankfurt criminal defense lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. “Now that they were able to get someone for themselves, they’re unlikely to turn around and just ship him to the U.S.”
Even after a German case, the former manager could fight his extradition and claim he would be prosecuted for the same offense twice, as the German and U.S. investigators are both looking at allegations regarding U.S. car sales. A suspect can file multiple appeals that may delay the process for a year, Wallasch said.
Volkswagen has admitted that its Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi vehicles with 2-liter and 3-liter diesel engines were programmed to turn pollution controls on during
government treadmill tests and turn them off while on the road.
The scheme went on for years before being discovered in tests conducted by West Virginia University. The scandal has cost Volkswagen more than $20 billion in criminal penalties and lawsuit settlements.
According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in Detroit, Pamio faces charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and violating the Clean Air Act.
The U.S. attorney’s office said Cleveland attorney Terry
Brennan was representing Pamio.
Brennan would not comment when reached Thursday evening.
The complaint said Pamio was head of thermodynamics in Audi’s diesel development department in Neckarsulm, leading a team of engineers who designed emissions controls from 2006 through November of 2015.
He and other unidentified conspirators determined that it was impossible to calibrate a 3-liter diesel engine to meet U.S. nitrogen oxide emissions
standards within design constraints imposed by other VW departments. So Pamio “directed Audi employees to design and implement software functions to cheat the standard U.S. emissions tests,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
Pamio and others then failed to disclose the software and knowingly misrepresented that the engines complied with U.S. pollution standards, according to the complaint.
In 2008, engineers who designed the cheating system
sent a presentation to Audi senior management, including Pamio, that detailed it, according to the complaint. That year, several Audi managers concluded that the software was “indefensible.” An Audi manager in 2013 sent an email about discussing the system with U.S. regulators, but Pamio, the complaint stated, argued that disclosure would be “too risky!”
Volkswagen already has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion penalty.