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07 December 2017, 09:07 | Kelvin Horton
Former Volkwagen executive sentenced to 7 years in jail for emissions scandal
A former high-ranking Volkswagen official was sentenced to seven years and a $400,000 fine for his role in the "Dieselgate" emissions scandal.
The prison sentence and $400,000 USA fine for Schmidt were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws.
German Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt.
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.
Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just "read from a script" provided by his superiors at Volkswagen.
Lawyers spent roughly 90 minutes giving different views about Schmidt's culpability in the scandal in Detroit federal court on Wednesday.
VW admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States, which allowed them to deceive emissions tests but emit up to 40 times the permissible levels of harmful nitrogen oxide during actual driving. Only one other VW employee has been sentenced in connection with the emissions scandal: former engineer James Liang, who received 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release as the result of his plea deal.
Former Audi executive Giovanni Pamio also remains at large.
Schmidt traveled to the USA as the scandal was breaking on a mission to lie to U.S. and Californian authorities so Volkswagen could obtain regulatory approvals to sell 2016 model year diesel vehicles in the United States, according to prosecutors. But his lawyers point out that he wasn't involved when the scheme was hatched years earlier by the company.
According to a DOJ press release published today, "Schmidt knew that VW's diesel vehicles were not compliant with United States standards and regulations and that these representations made to domestic customers were false".
However, Oliver Schmidt, a German national who headed up VW's environmental and engineering office in MI, is only the second person to receive jail time in the United States for his role in the scheme.
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