Jailed former VW Exec Oliver Schmidt blames bosses for failing to disclose emissions cheating
Former Volkswagen Group executive Oliver Schmidt reportedly wrote to a judge saying he feels “misused” by the German car-maker over the emissions cheating scandal. Schmidt pleaded guilty for his part in the atrocity and was handed a seven-year prison sentence, but he seems to be trying to land the blame on former bosses.
In his letter, Schmidt reportedly wrote:
“I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal, or ‘Dieselgate’.”
The former VW executive went on to accuse Volkswagen of ‘coaching’ him to lie about the diesel emissions some years ago to keep the cheating under wraps. He admits that he regrets not telling the truth to regulators.
As the former head of Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering centre in Michigan, Schmidt had a responsibility to disclose the cheating.
“I just want to repeat how sorry I am for violating the law in the United States and putting myself in this situation,” he apparently said. His words are unlikely to induce sympathy from the court or the millions of people affected by the scandal. Is he really sorry for the cheating, or just sorry that he was caught out?
Volkswagen reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
Prosecutors said Schmidt followed a “script of deception”, allowing VW to cheat on their official car emissions testing. In doing so, he has allowed the company to sell millions of unlawful vehicles to customers whilst under the pretence they were above-board. Oliver Schmidt reportedly lied to California environmental official, Alberto Ayala, on 5th August 2015 when he blamed “bogus technical explanations” when Ayala asked him about test results showing differences in emissions levels. Schmidt said that he was given “a script, or talking points” by VW management and the company’s lawyers for the meeting.
“In hindsight, I should have never agreed to meet with Dr. Ayala on that day.” Arguably, he should have known that what he was doing was wrong and illegal.
Schmidt’s defence team called for a prison sentence of no more than 40 months, which was the amount VW engineer James Liang was given. However, Liang notably co-operated with investigators while Schmidt apparently refused. Oliver Schmidt also allegedly obstructed justice by destroying relevant documents sought by investigators and allegedly lying to them. Six other VW executives have been criminally charged for their alleged roles in VW’s cheating too.
Volkswagen itself admitted to the scandal two years ago in September 2015. It also revealed that its cars in Europe, including 1.2 million in the UK, were also affected. Volkswagen has paid over $22 billion in pay outs and fines in the U.S. but is yet to take any real remedial action in Europe.
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