Engineer at Volkswagen jailed over emmissions
A US federal judge in Detroit sentenced former engineer James Liang to 40 months in prison yesterday for his role in Volkswagen's scheme to sell diesel cars that generated more pollution than US clean air rules allowed.
US District Court Judge Sean Cox also ordered Liang to pay a $200,000 (€168,000) fine, 10 times the amount sought by federal prosecutors. Cox said he hoped the prison sentence and fine would deter other car industry engineers and executives from similar schemes to deceive regulators and consumers.
Liang was part of a long-term conspiracy that perpetrated a "stunning fraud on the American consumer", Cox said, as the defendant's family looked on in the courtroom. "This is a very serious and troubling crime against our economic system."
Liang pleaded guilty earlier this year to misleading regulators, and had cooperated with US law enforcement officials.
Prosecutors last week recommended that Liang (63) receive a three-year prison sentence, reflecting credit for his months of cooperation with the US investigation of Volkswagen's diesel emissions fraud.
Liang could have received a five-year prison term under federal sentencing guidelines. Liang's lawyers had asked for a sentence of home detention and community service. Liang can appeal the sentence, Cox said.
VW pleaded guilty in March to three felony charges under an agreement with prosecutors to resolve the US criminal probe of the company itself. It agreed to spend as much as $25bn in the US States to resolve claims from owners and regulators and offered to buy back about 500,000 vehicles. (Reuters)