A Volkswagen official accused of violating environmental rules claims that company executives told him to lie about diesel emissions in a meeting with regulators two years ago.
Oliver Schmidt, a former VW manager who pleaded guilty August to conspiracy and violating the Clean Air Act, was given “a script, or talking points” to follow when he met with a California environmental official, Alberto Ayala, on Aug. 5, 2015.
“Regrettably, I agreed to follow it,” Schmidt wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Sean Cox. He faces up to seven years in prison for his role in covering up the company’s use of so-called cheat devices on several hundred thousand cars to evade detection of high emission levels.
“In hindsight, I should have never agreed to meet with Dr. Ayala on that day,” said Schmidt, who is scheduled to be sentenced in a Detroit federal court Dec. 6. “Or, better yet, I should have gone to that meeting, ignored the instructions given to me” and admitted “there was a defeat device in VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade.”
VW engineer James Liang was sentenced earlier this year to 40 months in prison for his role in helping the German automaker cheat U.S. emissions tests. Liang was the first person prosecuted in the scandal, and he likely will not be the last.
Liang and Schmidt are among eight executives criminally charged for their alleged roles in the scheme.
The company was sentenced in April to three years of probation for engaging in the nearly 10-year long scheme. VW must also undergo scrutiny from an independent regulator as part of a $4.3 billion settlement announced in January, as well as pay down a $2.8 billion criminal fine.
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