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Volkswagen executive arrested and charged with fraud over #Dieselgate in the US

A Volkswagen executive, Oliver Schmidt, has been arrested and charged in the US with fraud and conspiracy to conceal VW’s emissions defeat device.

WHILE THE WORLD’S automotive media was focussed on the Detroit Motor Show, the New York Times reported the arrest of a VW executive over concealing information about Volkswagen emissions defeat device in the US. The executive, Oliver Schmidt (pictured), is the former general manager of VW’s environmental and engineering office in the US and had been holidaying in Florida. He was arrested after attempting to return to Germany.

Mr Schmidt was subsequently charged with fraud and conspiracy in not disclosing the diesel defeat device that allowed VW diesel cars to meet emissions laws in California between 2006 and 2015, the defeat device allowed the vehicle to detect when it was being tested.

According to documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) revealed in the presentation of charges at Schmidt’s court appearance on Monday, Schmidt is alleged to have presented to VW executive management the “existence, purpose and characteristics” of the defeat device in July 2015 and that it was decided not “immediately” disclose the information to regulators. A month after this presentation, VW came clean to the Environmental Protection Agency about the defeat device.

“In the presentation, VW employees assured VW executive management that U.S. regulators were not aware of the defeat device,” the FBI documents said. “Rather than advocate for disclosure of the defeat device to U.S. regulators, VW executive management authorized its continued concealment.”

When the reporters at the Detroit Motor Show put the question of Schmidt’s arrest to VW US boss, Hinrich Woebcken he simply remarked that he was “surprised” by the criminal charge.

The financial impact of #dieselgate in the US is likely to top US$4billion in damages with an announcement likely sometime in the next two weeks about whether a settlement has been reached with the US Justice Department and the EPA.

Question: Do you think criminal charges should be laid against individuals in the #dieselgate saga?

  • Adzee Aus

    Absolutely, concealment by management means they are fraudulent in their disclosure. They have contributed to the many deaths by air pollution throughout the world and were manipulating their vehicles to do so. That is the equivalent of manslaughter.

    • Klaus

      You are right. But you miss to list all the other manufacturers.
      Point is – VW dared to offer Diesel engines in the US despite much stricter regulations.

      In Europe/Oz the regulations are much more relaxed. Thus pretty much all manufacturers are falling back to the statement that disabling the NOx filter is used to help preventing engine damage in all but ideal situations. Their NOx emissions are just as bad – if not worse – but simply within regulations. Of course, that doesn’t make air quality any better.
      By now there are several independent tests that are confirming this.

      So the VW case is bad but it hides the general issue in the industry.

      What’s really funny – the other day there was an article stating that large trucks are often emitting less NOx than cars. The reason: it was no problem to test NOx is large trucks because the transporting the big/heavy mobile test setup was not a problem. Thus the manufacturers had to fix NOx issues years back already.

      • Thanks Klaus, I’ve now written about the difference between heavy diesel vehicles and light, based on the ICCT study. Cheers Isaac

  • Steve Bekkers

    So I guess they will soon arrest George W Bush for murdering thousands of Iraqi’s based on fraudulent information?

  • Andrew Riles

    Any company requires the actions of individuals in order to operate so those individuals should be held accountable for their actions, and in this case charged as appropriate….

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.