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Former VW executive Oliver Schmidt set to plead guilty for his part in the Volkswagen emissions scandal

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2017 in the following categories: Emissions News and tagged with |

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Following denial after denial when it comes to guilt and responsibility, former VW executive, Oliver Schmidt, is to plead guilty for his part in the scandal.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch quite rightly stated: “Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied, and they ultimately lied.”

To hold VW executives accountable is the very least that they can do. Although VW continue to deny compensation to most victims around the world, it’s a positive thing that people are being properly punished for their involvement in what still looks like the biggest automotive scandal to ever occur.

Statement of Facts

As part of the plea bargain with U.S. authorities, VW signed a “Statement of Facts”. According to the statement filed with the court, VW engineers started to develop a new diesel engine to meet ‘stricter U.S. emissions regulations’. The diesel engine formed the basis of their new project to market the vehicles as “clean diesel”, which in turn had falsely led many vehicle owners to buy into the “clean diesel” concept which transpired to be a lie.

When engineers realised they couldn’t develop an engine to meet the stricter NOx emissions standards whilst meeting the needs and demands of the market, they decided to develop and utilise the so-called “defeat device” instead.

Executives involved

The executives involved in marketing the diesels as “clean diesel” and “environmentally friendly” reportedly included Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis, Jens Hadler, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jürgen Peter, and Oliver Schmidt.

After years of marketing and selling their vehicles as “clean diesels”, West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions published results from a study undertaken by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in March 2014. The study found discrepancies in the NOx emissions for VW vehicles when they were being tested in the laboratory compared to when they were driven on the roads.

The lies and deceit didn’t stop in 2014, though. VW seemed to then pursue a strategy which appeared to be to disclose as little as possible. Perhaps they thought they could get away with hiding the existence of the “defeat device” from U.S. regulators, customers and the public.

Oliver Schmidt’s plea

Mr Schmidt’s lawyer, David DuMouchel, told the judge for the Eastern District of Michigan that the former VW executive will be pleading guilty in the hearing scheduled. The allegations against Mr Schmidt is that he knowingly provided false information to U.S. regulators who became suspicious of the cheating emissions as early as 2014.

Mr Schmidt’s cooperation may pave the way for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute other VW employees too. You may recall James Robert Liang who was the first VW engineer to be charged and prosecuted for his participation in the development of the “defeat device”. He also agreed to cooperate with the authorities.

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