A top executive of Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW3) has been arrested over the emissions scandal. Oliver Schmidt has been working with the business since 1997. He is the second top executive of the business who now faces criminal charges. Engineer James Laing was the first person to be charged. He has since pleaded guilty.
Schmidt was the head of Volkswagen’s regulatory compliance in the US between 2014 and 2015. FBI agents arrested him over the weekend on charges of actively cheating the emissions test, which proved to be one of the biggest scandals in manufacturing history. According to allegations, which VW accepted in September 2015, the company doctored the diesel engines in more than 500,000 automobiles and allowed them to emit nitrogen oxide 40 times the allowed limit.
After the disclosure, Volkswagen agreed to make a payment of $14.7 billion for settling the scandal, most of them to the car owners.
However, Volkswagen is yet to recover fully from the incident. The company is still under investigation. Investigators are also looking into whether any other automaker tried to cheat the emissions test.
FBI Files a Criminal Complaint
A criminal complaint has been filed in the federal court in Detroit. FBI says the conspiracy and attempted cover-up reaches all the way back to the executive management in Germany. The complaint also names other employees of Volkswagen (ETR:VOW3) for conspiring to cheat the test with evading software and defrauding customers. Schmidt has also been charged for violating the “Clean Air Act”.
The Complains Are More Serious This Time
The allegations against Schmidt are more serious than the ones leveled against James Laing. Schmidt allegedly coordinated VW’s deceptive responses to questions filed by the environmental regulators in California and the United States. He even sent e-mails explaining the “existence, purpose and characteristics” of the cheat device. In response, the executive management authorized its continued concealment.
Last year, while speaking before the British Parliament, Oliver Schmidt denied these charges. He said software in the cars contained no cheat devices and insisted the company complied with all European laws. It remains to be seen what would be his plea this time. It might be impossible for Oliver Schmidt to deny the charges filed by the FBI.
VW has issued a statement after the charge against Oliver Schmidt saying, “Volkswagen continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice as we work to resolve remaining matters in the United States”.