Another employee of Volkswagen has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. Former general manager of the engineering and environmental office for VW of America Oliver Schmidt was arrested over the weekend. He is expected to be arraigned in a federal courtroom in Detroit on Monday. It’s unclear what charges Schmidt faces.
Schmidt was once was in charge of complying with U.S. emissions regulations. According to his bio for a 2012 conference for the auto industry, he was responsible for ensuring that vehicles built for sale within the U.S. and Canada complied with “past, present and future air quality and fuel economy government standards in both countries.” It also says that he served as the company’s direct factory and government agency contact for emissions regulations.
Volkswagen said in a statement that it is cooperating with the Justice Department in the probe and that “It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters.”
In 2014, the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation commissioned tests that found certain Volkswagen models with diesel engines emitted more than the allowable limit of pollutants. Volkswagen subsequently admitted to programming diesel-powered vehicles to evade pollution control tests with software that then turned off in real-world driving.
Volkswagen admitted to installing the software on about 500,000 2-liter diesel engines in VW and Audi models in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency found that the 2-liter cars emitted up to 40 times the legal limit for nitrogen oxide. The company later said that some 3-liter diesels were affected as well. The scandal tarnished the VW brand worldwide, costing the company billions in fines and missed sales.
Under a settlement approved by a federal judge in October, the company has agreed to either repair the cars or buy them back. Owners of 2-liter diesels could receive up to $10,000 from the company under the settlement, depending on the age of their cars.
In October, VW engineer James Robert Liang pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, becoming the first person to enter a plea in the case. A grand jury indictment against Liang detailed a 10-year conspiracy by Volkswagen employees to evade emissions tests and included detailed e-mails between Liang and co-workers that admitted the cheating. Liang agreed to cooperate with investigations in the U.S. and Germany, making him a valuable resource to uncover information about the participation of higher-ranking VW officials.