Judge approves transferring jailed Volkswagen executive to Germany

Oliver Schmidt

A U.S. judge in Detroit on Thursday approved the transfer to Germany of a former Volkswagen executive imprisoned over the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal.

In 2017, the U.S.-based VW executive Oliver Schmidt, who oversaw emissions issues, was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined $400,000, the maximum possible under a plea deal the German national made with prosecutors following admission to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and breach clean-air laws.

Schmidt, now 51, was not set to be released from a U.S. prison until December 2022. Under the terms of his transfer approved by Judge Elizabeth Stafford, Germany will take responsibility for enforcing the rest of his sentence.

The Justice Department refused to comment.

A half-dozen former VW executives charged by U.S. prosecutors are believed to still be living in Germany, including former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Winterkorn had been also charged by German prosecutors last year with stock market manipulation.

Germany’s Federal Justice Ministry has stated it does not extradite German nationals to the nations outside the European Union.

Overall, nine people have been charged by U.S. prosecutors and two former VW executives who have pleaded guilty in the case were sentenced to prison terms, which included Schmidt.

Volkswagen has confessed to using illegal software to evade U.S. pollution tests in 2015, permitting up to 40 times legally permitted emissions and in 2017 pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements as part of a $4.3 billion settlement that was reached with the Justice Department.

The scandal caused a worldwide backlash against diesel vehicles that has so far cost the automaker more than $30 billion in fines, penalties and vehicle buyback costs.

Last month, a U.S. appeals court ruled the automaker cannot escape possible financial penalties stemming from lawsuits filed by two counties in Florida and Utah that may amount to additional liability.

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