FBI arrests former Volkswagen executive in emissions scandal
By: Kyle West, Xiro Xone News January 9, 2017 Updated: 3:14 PM
The FBI have arrested a former executive of the German automaker Volkswagen on charges of conspiracy to defraud US regulators by falsifying emissions data.
Oliver Schmidt, who headed the company's regulatory compliance office in the U.S. from 2014 to March 2015, was arrested on Saturday by federal investigators in Florida, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Schmidt is to appear in court in Detroit on Monday, the sources said, according to the news outlet, which noted, however, that Schmidt’s lawyers and Justice Department officials have refused to comment on the matter.
VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software known as "defeat devices" in 475,000 U.S. 2.0-liter diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing. In reality, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.
The company agreed to settle federal and state lawsuits for $14.7 billion, including $2.7 billion toward an EPA fund to clean up the damaged caused by the polluting cars. Regulators recently agreed to VW's plan to fix 70,000 2015-and-later 2.0-liter models, though buyers also can also sell them back to Volkswagen for the full retail price.
The arrest came as Volkswagen and the Justice Department neared a deal to pay more than $2 billion to resolve the criminal investigation into the emissions cheating. The company or one of its corporate entities is expected to plead guilty as part of the deal.
"Volkswagen continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice as we work to resolve remaining matters in the United States. It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters," it said in a statement.
In September, James Liang, a former Volkswagen engineer who worked for the company in California, pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy and violating the US Clean Air Act, but the reported arrest of Oliver Schmidt now brings the case into the executive ranks.