Volkswagen executive pleads guilty in U.S. in diesel emissions scandal

Volkswagen executive pleads guilty in U.S. in diesel emissions scandal”

Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) executive Oliver Schmidt on Friday pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Detroit in a scandal related to the German automaker cheating diesel emissions, Reuters reports. He is charged with conspiracy and fraud.

Schmidt would be the second VW employee to plead guilty, after former company engineer James Liang admitted a year ago to helping devise the defeat devices.

Five VW executives based in Germany were indicted along with Schmidt and a former Audi manager was charged last month. Schmidt agreed to be deported after he has completed his sentence, Cox said. He worked in VW's Auburn Hills offices from 2012 to February 2015.

Under the plea agreement, Schmidt is expected to serve up to seven years in prison and pay a fine of between $40,000 and $400,000 after he admitted that he plotted to mislead US regulators while violating clean air laws.

Schmidt is accused of telling regulators technical problems were to blame for the difference in emissions in road and lab tests. When the auto was driven by consumers and outside of tests, it did not perform to those standards.

Schmidt faces up to seven years in prison, said U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, with sentencing scheduled for December 6.

Cox in March denied Schmidt a pretrial bond release.

Schmidt had been arraigned Thursday on revised charges and stood mute to charges. It pleaded guilty in March and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, on top of billions more to buy back cars. His trial had been scheduled to begin in January 2018. The company was fined a record-setting $2.8 billion and faces three years of probation.

In 2015, VW admitted it had equipped about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices to evade emissions tests, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States. Also charged: Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jens Hadler, Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis and Jürgen Peter, all of Germany. In September, Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty for his role in implementing software that would cheat USA emissions tests. Numerous other managers charged are believed to be in Germany, making extradition to the United States unlikely.

Liang, 63, is scheduled to be sentenced August 25.

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