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Report: FBI arrests VW compliance officer

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly arrested a Volkswagen compliance officer who will face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in VW’s diesel emissions cheating scandal.

Oliver Schmidt led Volkswagen’s regulatory compliance office in the United States from 2014 to March 2015.

He was arrested Saturday in Florida and is expected to be arraigned Monday in federal court in Detroit, according to a report by the New York Times.

Volkswagen has admitted it lied about emissions tests for about 11 million diesel vehicles.

Schmidt allegedly “played a central role in trying to convince regulators that excess emissions were caused by technical problems rather than by deliberate cheating,” the Times said.

VW agreed in June to spend up to $14.7 billion to resolve federal and California civil allegations of cheating on emissions tests and lying to customers. The settlements didn’t resolve federal criminal liability.

In September, a Volkswagen engineer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud, and to violate the Clean Air Act.

James Robert Liang, 62, of Newbury Park, California, entered his plea in federal court in Michigan. He worked for VW in Germany and the United States. He’s been cooperating with the DOJ.

Liang admitted VW couldn’t design a diesel engine to meet U.S. emissions standards. Instead he and other engineers created and installed cheating software.

The software recognized if a vehicle was undergoing standard U.S. emissions testing on a dynamometer or being driven on the road under normal driving conditions. During emissions testing, the software would “cheat” by sending false data.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog

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