VW executive given the maximum prison sentence for his role in Dieselgate

VW executive given the maximum prison sentence for his role in Dieselgate

A former Volkswagen executive has been sentenced to seven years in jail and given a $400,000 (£300,000) fine after pleading guilty to helping the German carmaker cheat on diesel emissions tests.

In August, Oliver Schmidt pled guilty to federal charges of conspiring to defraud the US and violating the Clean Air Act in connection with Volkswagen's "clean diesel" emissions cheating scandal.

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Schmidt's legal team argued that it wasn't him who hatched the plan to dupe emissions testing, but his role in covering up the fraudulent software should see his sentence capped at 40 months in prison.

Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just "read from a script" provided by his superiors at Volkswagen. "You saw this as your opportunity to shine ... and climb the corporate ladder at VW".

In a letter to the judge published earlier this week, Schmidt said he felt like he was "misused" by VW in the diesel scandal.

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Schmidt was arrested in January while traveling in the United States. He also misled American investigators and destroyed documents.

He had pleaded guilty in August to charges he conspired to commit fraud and violate the U.S. Clean Air Act. He argued that he was following a script written by the company's management and one of its lawyers when he lied to the California Air Resources Board about the compliance of VW's cars with United States regulations, and that he had come on board after the scheme was devised.

On Wednesday, German prosecutors said they had begun an initial inquiry into accusations by an environmental group that BMW AG is selling a vehicle that emits up to seven times the allowed levels of smog-forming nitrogen oxides. Other VW employees have been charged, but they are in Germany and out of reach of USA authorities.

Schmidt, who had returned to Germany, was arrested in Florida in January after attempting to return home from a vacation following the filing of an Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint.

In March this year VW pleaded guilty to the scheme, and alongside losing nearly a third of their stock price, fines issued by worldwide environmental protection agencies now cost the company more than $30 billion.

"He could have made a lot of different choices", Singer said.

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