Volkswagen senior manager faces prison for USA emissions scandal

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A Volkswagen senior manager has been sentenced to seven years in prison for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Schmidt, who led Volkswagen's United States regulatory compliance office from 2012 to March 2015, was also ordered by a federal judge in Detroit to pay a $400,000 fine.

The prison sentence and $400,000 USA 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.

The "dieselgate" scandal has cost Volkswagen as much as $30bn in fines, buybacks and settlements since 2015 when it admitted fitting 11m diesel vehicles worldwide with so-called defeat devices to suppress emissions of nitrogen oxide during tests.

Last week, Schmidt's attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine.

Instead, Schmidt was sentenced to the maximum penalties outlined in the plea deal.

He is one of eight people charged by USA authorities in the emissions scandal, which involved installing software in some 500,000 VW 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold in the US from 2009 through 2015 to make USA authorities believe that the vehicles met USA emissions standards.

Schmidt, 48, the second and most senior employee to plead guilty in the affair, is among seven current and former VW executives that U.S. prosecutors have charged so far.

Prosecutors say Schmidt concealed the software tricks to California regulators while offering "bogus" explanations of any differences in emissions.

In arguing for a seven-year sentence, prosecutors last month said Schmidt had participated in "one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in American history" and led efforts to cover up the company's misconduct in the summer of 2015.

"The defendant has a leadership role within VW", federal officials said.

According to a DOJ press release published today, "Schmidt knew that VW's diesel vehicles were not compliant with USA standards and regulations and that these representations made to domestic customers were false".

But at the sentencing in Detroit judge Sean Cox sided with the prosecution.

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