Volkswagen senior manager faces prison for USA emissions scandal

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Schmidt, who oversaw emissions at VW's office in MI from 2012 to early 2015, met with key California regulators in 2015 but did not disclose the rogue software.

The first was a company engineer, James Liang, who was handed only a 40-month jail term in August for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and violating the clean air act.

As part of his guilty plea, Schmidt admitted to being informed about the emissions cheating scheme, and conspired with other Volkswagen executives to illegally certify the company's 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine in the States.

In a letter addressed to Judge Sean F. Cox from the Federal District Court of Detroit, he wrote that "A script, or talking points, I was directed to follow for that meeting was approved by management level supervisors at VW, including a high-ranking in-house lawyer".

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"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States". Regrettably, I agreed to follow it. Judge Cox told Schmidt in reply to the same during the sentencing hearing that he "viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to shine and climb up the corporate ladder".

Last week, Schmidt's attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine.

Alongside the sentence Schmidt was fined $400,000. £298,000). Both the imprisonment and fine were at the top end of sentencing guidelines. The government said he later misled investigators and destroyed key documents.

Half a dozen other former VW executives are still at large, but Schmidt's stiff sentence could lessen the odds of others indicted in the case being prosecuted, with many residing in Germany, the Detroit Free Press reported. "As a effect of that role, he was literally in the room for important decisions during the height of the criminal scheme".

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