Volkswagen Exec Gets Arrested While On Vacation Over Emissions Scandal

Jan 11, 2017 12:43 PM EST | JP Olvido

Former Volkswagen emissions compliance executive Oliver Schmidt was arrested last Saturday night while waiting to catch a plane back to Germany. The arrest comes after his implication in an emissions scandal involving the German car manufacturer.

The Volkswagen emissions scandal. Schmidt allegedly played a central role in keeping from US regulators information that around 500,000 or so Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with a 2.0-liter diesel engine were installed with illegal software that helps cars pass emissions tests. The software is also designed to kill the emissions control system on cars when driving under real world conditions.

Schmidt had allegedly known of this illegal software since Volkswagen began using it in Audi vehicles in 2009. Focus, however, is in his involvement between April 2014 and September 2015 which was when the scandal was revealed.

The International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) and West Virginia University produced a report that found many Volkswagen diesel engine cars showing an alarming difference from Volkswagen's reported emissions levels when in real world driving conditions. This alerted Schmidt who then sent an email out to other VW Group managers which read, "It should first be decided whether or not we are honest. If we are not honest, everything stays as is."

This followed with the VW Group dancing around questions from regulators about the study from the ICCT and West Virginia University. They even claimed that the discrepancy could be fixed with a minor vehicle recall.

A defense lawyer of Schmidt, David Massey, had reached out to the FBI which was conducting an investigation with the intention to cooperate. Schmidt appeared in a Miami US District Court on Monday following his arrest by the FBI. He was on vacation in Florida and was waiting for a plane back to Germany when arrested. Schmidt was charged with defrauding the US, wire fraud, and violating the Clean Air Act.

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