A U.S.-based Volkswagen executive who supervised emissions issues was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined $400,000 by a judge on Wednesday for his role in a diesel emissions scandal that has actually cost the automaker about $30 billion.
The prison sentence and fine for the executive, Oliver Schmidt, were the highest possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after confessing to charges of conspiring to misinform US regulators and breach clean-air laws.
“It is my viewpoint that you are an essential conspirator in this plan to defraud the United States,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit informed Schmidt in court. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at Volkswagen.”
Schmidt checked out a written statement in court acknowledging his guilt and broke down when talking his family’s sacrifices on his behalf since his arrest in January.
“I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry,” he stated.
U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Benjamin Singer debated in court that Schmidt was “part of the decision making process” at the automaker to conceal a plan to fake automobile emissions results and had opportunities tell regulators the reality.
“Each time he opted to lie,” Singer stated.
In March, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to three felony counts under a plea agreement to deal with U.S. charges that it set up secret software in vehicles in order to evade emissions tests.
U.S. prosecutors have charged 8 present and previous Volkswagen executives. Six of those remain at large.
Volkswagen rebounded from the scandal during the last year. CEO Matthias Mueller last month expected record deliveries of vehicles for the company in 2017, and the Volkswagen automobile brand has stated it expects record deliveries for this year, and raised its midterm revenue outlook.