Charges lowered for VW exec in 'dieselgate' plea deal


US prosecutors reduced the charges Thursday against a Volkswagen executive who has agreed to plead guilty to his part in covering up the "dieselgate" emissions-cheating scandal that has rocked the company.
The change come a day before Oliver Schmidt, who led the German automaker's US regulatory compliance office until 2015, was scheduled to appear in a Detroit court to enter his plea.
Prosecutors dropped a wire fraud charge, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. They retained a fraud conspiracy charge and a charge of violating the US Clean Air Act, which together carry a maximum sentence of seven years.
VW admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices to evade emissions tests, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States.
Diesel cars marketed as clean were in fact spewing 40 times the permissible limits of nitrogen oxide during normal driving.
Schmidt would be the second VW employee to plead guilty, after former company engineer James Liang admitted last year to helping devise the defeat devices. An FBI affidavit cited him as a cooperating witness.
The company pleaded guilty in March to charges it defrauded the US and conspired to violate the Clean Air Act and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties. That was on top of $17.5 billion in civil settlements.
Volkswagen still faces an array of legal challenges in Germany and worldwide, and has so far set aside more than 22 billion euros ($24.4 billion) to cover dieselgate costs.
Experts estimate the final bill could be higher.
© 2017 AFP
Charges lowered for VW exec in 'dieselgate' plea deal Charges lowered for VW exec in 'dieselgate' plea deal Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 11:09:00 Rating: 5