Volkswagen executive pleads guilty in diesel emissions case

Volkswagen executive pleads guilty in diesel emissions case

Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) executive Oliver Schmidt on Friday pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Detroit in a scandal related to the German automaker cheating diesel emissions, Reuters reports.

In a superseding criminal information, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Schmidt with one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act.

Schmidt will be sentenced on December 6.

Under the plea agreement, Schmidt is expected to serve up to seven years in prison and pay a fine of between $40,000 and $400,000 after he admitted that he plotted to mislead US regulators while violating clean air laws.

The VW Group executive, Oliver Schmidt, was based outside of Detroit and was in charge of emissions compliance for Volkswagen in the years before the company was caught using illegal software to cheat on federal emissions tests.

In the month of March, Volkswagen was pleaded guilty to three felony counts, which has been under a plea agreement to resolve US charges that it installed secret software in vehicles to evade emissions tests.

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"Schmidt participated in a fraudulent VW scam that prioritized corporate sales at the expense of the honesty of emissions tests and trust of the American purchasers", said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean Williams.

Schmidt was in charge of the company's environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues.

As a result, U.S. prosecutors said they would drop a wire fraud charge, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Schmidt is the first of six former VW executives who were indicted [PDF] by federal authorities to plead guilty for his part in the scandal.

He was arrested when he travelled to the United States in early January.

"In the summer of 2015, Schmidt participated in discussions with other VW employees about how they could answer questions posed by U.S. regulators about the NOx [nitrogen oxide] emissions of the Subject Vehicles, without revealing the defeat device", the plea agreement says. "It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters". As a result the automaker was ordered to spend up to $25 billion to resolve the matter. James Liang pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, is cooperating with prosecutors and will be sentenced on August 25. Had he made his way back to Germany, that country does not allow citizens to be extradited to other countries.

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