A judge Wednesday sentenced a Volkswagen senior manager to seven years in prison for covering up a scheme to evade pollution limits on USA diesel vehicles, calling it an astonishing fraud on American consumers. Oliver Schmidt will be sentenced Wednesday in Detroit federal court.
Oliver Schmidt, a German national who was the general manager in charge of VW's environmental and engineering office in MI, had pleaded guilty to his part in the cover-up and argued he was "misused" by VW in its attempts to circumvent USA emissions tests. "Corporations and individuals acting on behalf of corporations will be brought to justice for harming our environment".
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox sentenced the former general manager of VW's environmental and engineering office in the. But he didn't disclose rogue software that had long fooled authorities into believing that VW was meeting emissions rules on almost 600,000 vehicles.
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Federal courts have ordered Volkswagen to spend more than $1 billion to buy back or fix the affected cars.
Volkswagen auto engineer James Liang was sentenced in August to 40 months in prison and fined $200,000 for his role in the scandal.
Last week, Schmidt's attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. He received four months more than prosecutors recommended.
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The "dieselgate" scandal has cost Volkswagen as much as $30bn in fines, buybacks and settlements since 2015 when it admitted fitting 11m diesel vehicles worldwide with so-called defeat devices to suppress emissions of nitrogen oxide during tests. The government says he later misled US investigators and destroyed documents. As VW Group rolled out its massive "clean diesel" marketing campaign appealing to environmentally conscious vehicle buyers, those same cars were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) many times in excess of the legal limit. But his lawyers point out that he wasn't involved when the scheme was hatched years earlier by the company.
"The defendant has a leadership role within VW", federal officials said.
In March, Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to three felonies and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine.
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