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German VW engineer jailed 7 years by U.S. court

The former general manager of Volkswagen AG’s U.S. Environment and Engineering Office was sentenced Wednesday to 84 months in prison for helping VW cheat on diesel emissions tests and covering up the scheme.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, a German citizen living there, was sentenced in federal court in Michigan.

Judge Sean Cox also ordered Schmidt to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000. 

He pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act, and to one count of violating the Clean Air Act.

Schmidt joined a “conspiracy and deceive U.S. regulators,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan. 

Schmidt first learned in the summer of 2015 that some VW diesel vehicles had software designed to cheat  U.S. emissions tests. 

He had discussions then with other VW employees about how to coordinate responses to questions from U.S. regulators about VW’s diesel vehicles without admitting the vehicles had cheating software.

“On the instructions of management, Schmidt met with U.S. regulators twice in August 2015 and attempted to obtain approval for the sale of additional VW diesel vehicles without disclosing what he knew was the truth — that the real reason for the high emissions on the road was that VW had intentionally installed software designed to cheat emissions testing,” the DOJ said.

Schmidt was arrested in January this year in Miami during a visit to the United States.

He admitted knowing that VW’s diesel engines didn’t comply with U.S. emission standards and that representations to customers about  “clean diesel” vehicles were false.

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

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