Volkswagen compliance executive Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in jail after pleading guilty to his part in the dieselgate emissions scandal in the US.
Schmidt, Volkswagen’s compliance liaison with American regulators, had asked that his penalty be limited to 40 months after arguing that he had been “coached to lie” about emissions by his bosses, but his guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to defraud the US and another of violating the Clean Air Act in August landed him with the longest possible sentence, Bloomberg reported.
Schmidt conceded “I only have myself to blame” as US District Judge Sean Cox passed sentence at the US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), yesterday (December 6).
His sentencing follows the 40-month term handed to Volkswagen engineer James Liang in August.
Cox referred to Schmidt as a “key conspirator” in the dieselgate deception, stating that he had known Volkswagen’s vehicles were not compliant with U.S. emissions standards.
Schmidt was sentenced to a total of 60 months for the first count and 24 months for the second count, to run consecutively, and was fined $400,000.
Bloomberg reported that Volkswagen has already incurred around $30 billion in costs following its September 2015 admission 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide had been fitted with a device which would reduce emissions outputs under test conditions.
The company and its executives are still under investigation in Germany and it faces investor lawsuits in the US and at home, it said.
Yesterday AM reported how Volkswagen's manging director, Paul Willis, had conceded that the Volkswagen Group (UK) had received nearly 17,000 complaints about its dieselgate technical solution.
The so-called ‘emissions fix’ to reduce NOx emissions is being rolled out across Europe amid the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, but owners have been plagued with breakdowns and poor vehicle performance after the update has been carried out, according to the Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum (DCF).
Following a request from Lilian Greenwood MP, the Transport Committee chair, Willis (pictured) admitted that VW Group UK's customer service unit has received over 16,900 complaints from owners whose vehicles have had the emissions fix installed.
Complaints include reduced MPG, broken exhaust gas recirculation valves and clogged diesel particulate filters, which they believe have occurred since the technical measures.