Currently reading: Dieselgate: former Volkswagen executive jailed for seven years
US District Court rules Oliver Schmidt, formerly the firm's US emissions compliance manager, was 'key conspirator' in scandal

Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 (£299,000) by a US District Court for his role in the Dieselgate scandal. 

Schmidt was the firm’s emissions compliance manager for the US from 2012 until February 2015. He had returned to Germany but was arrested at an airport in Florida in January. In August, he pleaded guilty to two charges related to the emission scandal: conspiracy to defraud the US to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act; and violating the Clean Air Act. A third charge, relating to wire fraud, was dropped.

Schmidt’s defence attorney had appealed for a maximum sentence of 40 months, with a $100,000 fine. But in the Eastern District of Michigan United States District Court, federal judge Sean Cox told Schmidt: “It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States. You saw this as your opportunity to shine.” Both the seven-year sentence and fine were at the top end of sentencing guidelines.

Greed, lies and deception - the Dieselgate scandal laid bare

According to The Detroit News, in a letter addressed to Cox ahead of the sentencing, Schmidt wrote: “I am truly embarrassed/ashamed to be standing in front of you.” He added that he felt he had been “misused by my own company in the diesel scandal”.

When he entered his guilty plea, Schmidt said he learned in summer 2015 about the ‘defeat devices’ VW had installed on diesel vehicles that allowed them to pass laboratory emissions tests, and that he had failed to disclose the existence of such devices.

Schmidt is the second Volkswagen employee to be sentenced to prison in the US for his role in the scandal. In August, James Liang, VW’s former head of diesel competence, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined $200,000 (£155,000).

Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty in March to three criminal charges related to the scandal, receiving a $2.8bn (£2.1bn) fine and three years of probation. 

Read more

Volkswagen engineer sentenced to prison for Dieselgate involvement

Greed, lies and deception - the Dieselgate scandal laid bare

VW emissions scandal: $14.7bn settlement approved as biggest in US history

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Autocar tests show worse economy after Dieselgate fix

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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Cobnapint 7 December 2017

7 years is ridiculous

Completely OTT. But that's the US justice system for you.

What times the next top fuel dragster event..?

Thekrankis 7 December 2017

VW killed diesel

They certainly sped up its demise and destoyed confidence in diesel as a fuel.


Lapps 7 December 2017

Top Manufacturers?

Is it not strange that just below this Article and against this background, Autocar has Volkswagen listed as first among the top 5 manufacturers?

in fact, it is a strange List all round. What does ‘Top’ mean? What are the criteria?

Looking at the list it could not be size.

If it was engineering expertise you would expect to find Porsche, Mercedes or BMW. 

So what is the criteria for inclusion on the List? Terrible thought, but could it possibly be Advertising Spend?