Former Volkswagen Manager Sentenced To 7 Years For 'Dieselgate' Role

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Volkswagen senior manager Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in a US prison for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Alongside the sentence Schmidt was fined $400,000.

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.

Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine.

"I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry", he said.

Six current or former Volkswagen or Audi executives charged in the United States for the emissions scandal remain at large, including Richard Dorenkamp, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jens Hadler and Bernd Gottweis, who were indicted in the same criminal case as Liang and Schmidt.

Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just "read from a script" provided by his superiors at Volkswagen.

Dieselgate

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

He is the highest-ranking VW employee to be convicted in the scheme in the United States and the chances that the USA authorities will prosecute more senior VW executives are slim as most are in Germany, which is unlikely to extradite its citizens to stand trial in the US.

VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 U.S. vehicles.

A study published in May found that excess nitrogen oxide from improperly configured diesel vehicles had contributed to about 38,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2015.

Prosecutors say Schmidt concealed the software tricks to California regulators while offering "bogus" explanations of any differences in emissions. 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 a DOJ press release published today, "Schmidt knew that VW's diesel vehicles were not compliant with U.S. standards and regulations and that these representations made to domestic customers were false".


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