Volkswagen boss jailed over emissions scandal
A Volkswagen compliance executive who pleaded guilty for his role in the company's $30bn (€25bn) emissions cheating scandal was sentenced to seven years in prison in the US.
Oliver Schmidt, VW's compliance liaison with American regulators, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to defraud the US and another of violating the Clean Air Act. Federal prosecutors sought the maximum of seven years, while Schmidt asked US District Judge Sean Cox to limit his sentence to 40 months, saying he'd been coached to lie about emissions by his bosses.
Schmidt, a German national, was arrested in Miami while trying to return to Germany after a vacation. He was deemed a flight risk and denied bail. Five other executives were indicted and remain in Germany.
"I only have myself to blame," Schmidt said before Cox handed down the sentence. He admitted that he tried to conceal VW's cheating.
Judge Cox sentenced Schmidt to 60 months for the first count and 24 months for the second count, to run consecutively. Schmidt was fined $400,000 (€340,000). Schmidt knew VW's vehicles weren't compliant with US emissions standards, Sean Cox told the defendant.
Volkswagen has already incurred about $30bn in costs following its September 2015 admission that it outfitted about 11 million diesel cars worldwide with a defeat device, embedded software that allowed the vehicles to recognise when they were being tested in laboratory conditions, and to reduce emissions to meet acceptable levels.
VW developed the devices in an attempt to boost sales by offering "clean diesel" that would meet emissions standards.