While Volkswagen is nearing the closure of its $2 billion diesel emissions scandal, the F.B.I has reportedly arrested an executive as part of an ongoing investigation against the company, reports New York Times. The executive faces conspiracy charges for cheating the United States under the emissions scandal towards the end of 2015. This is a major development in the criminal investigation against the automaker.
The executive allegedly accused of conspiracy charges is Oliver Schmidt. During the period of 2014 and 2015, he was responsible for leading Volkswagen’s regulatory compliance office in the U.S. He is said to be arrested by the investigators on Saturday in Florida and he’ll now face charges in a Detroit court on Monday. Schmidt, as previous lawsuit filings report, played an important part in concealing the emission of its vehicles.
Though the arrest hasn’t been confirmed by either the automaker or the F.B.I officials, a Volkswagen spokesperson has shared the following statement:
[The automaker] continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice. It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters.
For those unaware of the deeds of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the authorities started probing the high emission levels back in 2014. The U.S representative of the company had then cited false technical explanations for the same and gotten off the hook. But Schmidt in late 2015 acknowledged the existence of a so-called defeat device that was programmed to cheat the emissions tests. This cheat software, which switched on a pollution control system at the cost of engine performance during the test, was fitted in over 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
The said Volkswagen executive, Oliver Schmidt, isn’t the first one to face charges with regard to the said criminal investigation. Prior to his arrest, engineer James Liang pleaded guilty for colluding with Schmidt to lead the emissions scandal to defraud the American masses. The company has already received final approval for its $14.7 billion settlement over the scandal.
Under the same, it has also committed to set aside $10 billion from the said funds to fix defected diesel vehicles or provide compensations. It has also been instructed to invest nearly $4.7 billion towards greener tech initiatives. This includes a partial investment into zero-emissions vehicle development (which the company is aggressively focusing on) and the rest into an environmental trust. It has also disclosed plans to lay off over 5,000 employees to streamline operations and shift focus on greener automobiles.