High-ranking USA -based Volkswagen executive, Oliver Schmidt, has been sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay a $400,000 fine for his part in a decadelong diesel-emissions cheating scandal.
A plea agreement means the German national faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of as much as $400,000 after he admitted plotting to deceive USA regulators and violate clean-air laws.
Schmidt's sentence was handed down by Judge Sean Cox of the US District Court in Detroit.
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Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August.
Although the initial stages of the scheme to goose emissions numbers started as early as 2004 at Audi, Schmidt and his lawyers assert that the executive only found out about the software in the summer of 2015, a few months before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public VW Group's violation.
These allowed vehicles to cheat pollution tests.
Schmidt led VW's engineering and environmental office in MI from 2012 to early 2015.
US Department of Justice trial attorney Benjamin Singer argued in court that Schmidt was "part of the decision making process" at VW to hide a scheme to fake vehicle emissions results and had opportunities tell regulators the truth.
Schmidt's lawyer. David DuMouchel of Detroit, asked for a maximum of 40 months in prison and $100,000 fine.
He is the highest-ranking VW employee to be convicted in the scheme in the United States and the chances that the USA authorities will prosecute more senior VW executives are slim as most are in Germany, which is unlikely to extradite its citizens to stand trial in the US.
In a letter to the judge published earlier this week, Schmidt said he felt like he was "misused" by VW in the diesel scandal.