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Volkswagen executive sentenced to seven years in jail over 'dieselgate'

Volkswagen executive sentenced to seven years in jail over 'dieselgate'

A former high-ranking Volkswagen official was sentenced to seven years and a $400,000 fine for his role in the "Dieselgate" emissions scandal.

Schmidt will be deported after he serves his sentence.

Lawyers spent roughly 90 minutes giving different views about Schmidt's culpability in the scandal in Detroit federal court on Wednesday.

Schmidt was charged with 11 felony counts and federal prosecutors said he could have faced a maximum of up to 169 years in prison.

Last week, Schmidt's attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine.

Schmidt said he had only himself to blame and that his loyalty to Volkswagen allowed him to be "misused" by the company.




Instead, Schmidt was sentenced to the maximum penalties outlined in the plea deal.

The first was a company engineer, James Liang, who was handed only a 40-month jail term in August for conspiracy to defraud the United States government and violating the clean air act.

Five other VW employees remain at large. He admitted knowing about and agreeing with engineers to carry out a scheme to install a device on certain VW diesel vehicles that would switch on for emissions tests, but switch off during normal driving.

A former Audi AG manager, Giovanni Pamio, has also been charged by the USA for his alleged role in helping Volkswagen cheat emissions standards. As VW Group rolled out its massive "clean diesel" marketing campaign appealing to environmentally conscious auto buyers, those same cars were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) many times in excess of the legal limit. Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme, which violated the Clean Air Act. According to the January 2017 complaint against Schmidt, the executive "offered technical reasons and excuses such as "irregularities" or "abnormalities" for the discrepancy without revealing the fundamental reason for the higher NOx measurements on the road: software intentionally installed in VW vehicles so the vehicles could detect and evade emissions testing". Schmidt ran VW's US engineering and environmental office from 2012 through early 2015 and was responsible for obtaining regulatory approval for VW vehicles sold in the U.S.

"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States", US District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt in court.


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