VW executive sentenced to 7 years for emissions scandal

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A maximum seven-year sentence for former Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt closes a long chapter in perhaps the largest and most expensive conspiracy in the global auto industry's history, reports the Detroit News.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sean Cox and also received a fine of $400,000. Schmidt previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act and conspiring to defraud the United States government in August for his role in Dieselgate. He said he considered Schmidt a "key conspirator", who viewed the cover up as an opportunity to "shine" and "climb the corporate ladder".

"I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry", he said.

Schmidt traveled to the USA as the scandal was breaking on a mission to lie to U.S. and Californian authorities so Volkswagen could obtain regulatory approvals to sell 2016 model year diesel vehicles in the United States, according to prosecutors.

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Authorities initially reported one death, but then retracted that, saying a dead dog but no person was found in an overturned vehicle .

The software reduced harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide when the cars were being tested, but on the road, the emissions were well over limits to control pollution. Only one other VW employee has been sentenced in connection with the emissions scandal: former engineer James Liang, who received 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release as the result of his plea deal.

VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 U.S. vehicles.

As the general manager of Volkswagen's engineering and environmental office in Michigan, Schmidt was responsible for the company's relationship with California's regulatory agency and reportedly fed federal regulators false information.

Germany's largest automaker is recovering from the emissions crisis that prompted its then-CEO, Martin Winterkorn, to resign in September of 2015 after nearly a decade at the company's helm.

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