US based Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 by a US judge for his role in the diesel emissions scandal that cost the German carmaker as much as $30 billion.
Schmidt, a German national, copped the maximum possible sentenced after a plea deal where he admitted to charges of conspiring to mislead US regulators and violate clean-air laws.
Volkswagen had pleaded guilty to three felony counts under the plea agreement to resolve the US charges that it had installed secret software in vehicles in order to elude emissions tests.
Schmidt was charged with 11 felony counts.
He faced a maximum of up to 169 years in prison but prosecutors agreed to drop most of the counts as part of the guilty plea.
According to the guilty plea, he had conspired with other executives to avoid disclosing “intentional cheating” by Volkswagen in a bid to seek regulatory approval for its model 2016 VW 2 litre diesels.
Schmidt, who was in charge of Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Michigan until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues, consented to be deported at the end of his prison sentence.
US Department of Justice trial attorney Benjamin Singer said that Schmidt was part of the decision making team at Volkswagen and had hidden the scheme to fake vehicle emissions results.
Singer said Schmidt had opportunities tell regulators the truth.
“Every time he chose to lie,” Singer said.
“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. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”
US prosecutors have charged eight current and former Volkswagen executives and five of those remain at large.