Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt has pleaded guilty of his part in a diesel emissions scandal, which rigged diesel cars with devices to evade emissions tests. The decade long scheme has cost Volkswagen almost $30 billion and Mr. Schmidt is due to save up to seven years in prison.
He will also receive a fine of anything between $40,000 and $400,000 for misleading consumers and US regulators. Schmidt originally pleaded guilty to the charges in August, and sentencing is due to be announced. According to the District Judge, prosecutors have argued that he should receive the maximum five year sentence for his part in the scandal.
According to the prosecutors “The defendant had a leadership role within VW, and as a consequence of that role, was literally ‘in the room’ for important decisions during the height of the criminal scheme, including when decisions were made to continue to hide the fraud from US regulators and the US public,”
Schmidt’s attorney has argued that the sentence should be a maximum of 40 months along with a fine of $100,000, and claims that his role in the scheme was “limited”. He said “Mr. Schmidt is substantially less culpable than… the numerous senior-level VW executives (most of whom will never appear in a US courthouse) who initiated, designed, implemented, and refined the defeat device over nine years before Mr. Schmidt became involved,”
Earlier in the year, VW pleaded guilty to charges in the US over the allegations of fraud, and has made arrangements to resolve the scandal where software was secretly installed in vehicles to evade the emissions tests required on diesel cars. So far eight executives from the company have been charged in relation to the case.
Schmidt has been charged with 11 counts of felony this year, and according to prosecutors he could have ended up with a prison sentence of up to 169 years if it weren’t for his early guilty plea. It was agreed that the court would drop the majority of the charges and he would be deported once he’d served his prison sentence.
Schmidt has admitted to being aware of the software as early as 2015, and to conspiring with other VW executives to hide the information from authorities and regulators in order to achieve approval for a new 2016 model of 2 litre diesel cars. Mr Schmidt commented that “I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or ‘Dieselgate’”