The FBI arrested Oliver Schmidt, former top emissions compliance manager for Volkswagen of America, last Saturday in Florida. The charges point out to his role in a company-wide conspiracy to sell highly polluting vehicles in the United States.
Schmidt’s arrest is the latest event in the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015 when the company made it to the headlines for “cheating” carbon emission tests for contamination to meet the regulatory standards of the US.
The scandal famously called ‘Dieselgate’ in the media continues to this day, fueled by the US government’s effort to settle the matter with criminal prosecution. The German automaker, according to a spokeswoman, continues to cooperate with the Justice Department.
Schmidt played a central role in ‘Dieselgate’ for years
Oliver Schmidt appeared before a Miami court yesterday but did not enter a plea. He is currently incarcerated and will present himself before a judge again on Thursday.
Mr. Schmidt was one of the key people who, in 2014, first excused Volkswagen’s foul play by arguing that the excess emissions were the result of mechanical problems and not a deliberate programming of the car, as investigators later discovered.
Volkswagen later admitted that they intended to deceive US regulators through its vehicles’ programming. Schmidt then appeared before a British Parliament committee on January 2016 to claim that the company’s behavior did not break European laws.
The former executive served as the General Manager for Volkswagen’s Engineering and Environmental Office in Michigan. His lawyers have currently declined to make any comments regarding his situation. Volkswagen has also failed to comment on this particular matter.
Volkswagen’s lawsuit in the US counts 500,000 polluting cars
Car engines generate a significant amount of the atmospheric contamination that currently leads to problems like global warming and climate change. Many countries started to require carmakers to lessen the carbon emissions in their automobiles to help with the problem.
Volkswagen, however, began cheating on the laboratory tests that proved their cars had controlled carbon emissions. The reports of this activity go all the way back to the year 2008, with other companies being involved in the operation.
Schmidt’s arrest comes just after Volkswagen and the Justice Department agreed to a $2 billion settlement. One of the requisites for the resolution was a guilty plea from the company or a particular corporate party.
Volkswagen will pay up to $16 billion to settle these claims, with affected car owners having the option of selling their cars back to the company or getting them fixed, though VW has not proposed any fixes that comply with US regulations.
More than half a million cars with greater emissions of carbon dioxide found their way to American homes. The company admitted that approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide had cheated on emissions tests.
The company is still recovering, in all respects, from this scandal, which has earned them global distrust.
Source: The New York Times