On December 6th, Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt is slated to be sentenced in the US in relation to his earlier guilty plea to charges of conspiring to defraud regulators and to violate clean air laws.
“I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or ‘Dieselgate’,” the letter (which was first published by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag) read.
The letter to the judge seems to fully acknowledge the role that Schmidt played in the scandal — with him noting that he had agreed to follow a “script” (as decided by Volkswagen’s higher-ups and a top lawyer) when meeting with the California Air Resources Board executive Alberto Ayala when the scandal was first heating up.
“In hindsight, I should never have agreed to meet with Dr Ayala on that day,” he stated. “Or better yet, I should have gone to that meeting and ignored the instructions given to me and told Dr Ayala that there is a defeat device in the VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade. I did not do that and that is why I find myself here today.”
Going by his guilty plea, after first becoming aware of the use of “defeat device” software in the company’s diesel cars in mid-2015, Schmidt then coordinated and conspired with fellow Volkswagen execs to avoid the disclosure of the fact. That is, they conspired to avoid disclosing “intentional cheating” — as part of the company’s bid to gain regulatory approval for the 2016 Volkswagen 2-liter diesel model lineup.
Reuters provides some further background: “Schmidt pleaded guilty in August in the US District Court in Detroit to wrongdoing connected to a massive diesel emissions scandal that has cost Volkswagen as much as $30 billion. … Under a plea agreement, Schmidt faces up to 7 years in prison and a fine of between $40,000 and $400,000 after admitting to conspiring to mislead US regulators and violating clean air laws. … Schmidt was in charge of the company’s environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues.”
While a total of 7 Volkswagen execs (former or otherwise) other than Schmidt have been charged by US prosecutors as well, they are all essentially hiding out in Germany. So, from the looks of things, it’s unlikely that they will ever face justice in the US.
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