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Ex Volkswagen executive jailed in United States amid diesel scandal

07 December 2017

The man who was in charge of Volkswagen's USA environmental and engineering office before the Dieselgate scandal has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

The prison sentence and $400,000 United States 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.

Former engineer James Liang was sentenced in August to 40 months in prison and a $200,000 fine by the same District Court judge, Sean Cox.

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"I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry", Mr Schmidt said in court on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

In delivering his verdict, Cox said Schmidt was a "key conspirator" who used his role in the scheme as an opportunity to climb VW's corporate ladder.

Schmidt had been looking to limit his own sentence to 40 months in jail, with court papers filed last week showing Schmidt had said he only learnt about the scheme in the summer of 2015, at the end of the scandal.

Volkswagen first admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat U.S. emissions tests. Other Volkswagen executives have been charged in this case, but they remain in Germany, out of reach of American authorities. 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. That's the sentence that prosecutors recommended.

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Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine.

Schmidt was in charge of the company's environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues.

Schmidt was arrested in January while traveling in the United States. Schmidt ran VW's US engineering and environmental office from 2012 through early 2015 and was responsible for obtaining regulatory approval for VW vehicles sold in the U.S. These allowed vehicles to cheat pollution tests.

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Ex Volkswagen executive jailed in United States amid diesel scandal