Former Volkwagen executive sentenced to 7 years in jail for emissions scandal

Cheryl Sanders
December 7, 2017

A US-based Volkswagen AG executive who oversaw emissions issues was sentenced to 7 years in prison and fined $400,000 by a judge on Wednesday for his role in a diesel emissions scandal that has cost the German automaker as much as $30 billion.

Oscar Schmidt was also fined $US400,000.

As part of his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop most of the counts and Schmidt consented to be deported at the end of his prison sentence.


He had pleaded guilty in August to charges he conspired to commit fraud and violate the US Clean Air Act.

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. Chief Executive Matthias Mueller last month predicted record deliveries of vehicles for the company this year, and the Volkswagen auto brand has said it expects record deliveries for 2017, and raised its midterm profitability outlook. Schmidt's plea deal stated that the former executive could face up to seven years in prison and between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines. Six of those remain at large. He admitted knowing about and agreeing with engineers to carry out a scheme to install a device on certain VW diesel vehicles that would switch on for emissions tests, but switch off during normal driving.

A Volkswagen senior manager has been sentenced to seven years in prison for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles.


The software reduced harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide when the cars were being tested, but on the road, the emissions were well over limits to control pollution.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox handed down the sentence at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit.

Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme. That summer, A CARB official asked to speak to Schmidt about a discrepancy between VW's emissions numbers from lab testing and real-world emissions numbers from researchers at West Virginia University.


According to a DOJ press release published today, "Schmidt knew that VW's diesel vehicles were not compliant with U.S. standards and regulations and that these representations made to domestic customers were false".

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