Oliver Schmidt jailed for seven years for Volkswagen emissions scam

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A former manager at Volkswagen was sentenced to 84 months in prison on Wednesday for his role in the company's emissions cheating scandal.

In August, Oliver Schmidt pled guilty to federal charges of conspiring to defraud the USA and violating the Clean Air Act in connection with Volkswagen's "clean diesel" emissions cheating scandal.

Schmidt led VW's engineering and environmental office in MI from 2012 to early 2015.

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In a deal with prosecutors, Schmidt earlier agreed to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence. 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.

VW admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States, which allowed them to deceive emissions tests but emit up to 40 times the permissible levels of harmful nitrogen oxide during actual driving.

U.S. prosecutors have charged eight current and former Volkswagen executives.

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At the Los Angeles auto show last week, the head of Volkswagen's U.S. operations declared, "we're back", citing improved U.S. vehicle sales.

Schmidt, 48, the second and most senior employee to plead guilty in the affair, is among seven current and former VW executives that USA prosecutors have charged so far.

Defence lawyers had sought a sentence of only 40 months and a US$100,000 fine, saying Schmidt's participation in the conspiracy had not occurred until nine years after it began and that he had expressed remorse.

Schmidt was in charge of the company's environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues.

Oliver Schmidt, who is the second person to be sent to prison over the scandal, was dispatched to the USA from Germany in 2015 to meet with suspicious California regulators.

The auto industry is still feeling the repercussions of Volkswagen's diesel cheating.

Schmidt was arrested in January while traveling in the United States.