A US-based Volkswagen AG executive who oversaw emissions issues was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined US$400,000 by a judge on Wednesday for his role in a diesel emissions scandal that has cost the German automaker as much as US$30 billion.
The prison sentence and fine for Oliver 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 US regulators and violate clean-air laws.
“It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States,” US District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt in court. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”
Schmidt read a written statement in court acknowledging his guilt and broke down when discussing his family’s sacrifices on his behalf since his arrest in January.
“I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry,” he said.
Department of Justice trial attorney Benjamin Singer argued in court that Schmidt was “part of the decision making process” at VW to hide a scheme to fake vehicle emissions results and had opportunities to tell regulators the truth.
“Every time he chose to lie,” Singer said.