VW Executive Oliver Schmidt Arrested in Florida

Feds arrest Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt amid charges of conspiracy and wire fraud.

VW Executive Oliver Schmidt Arrested in Florida

Posted in News

— Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt has been arrested in Miami and charged in a criminal complaint for his alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and customers by using emissions defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen vehicles.

Schmidt, 48, is a resident of Germany but was in Florida when the feds arrested and charged him with conspiracy, wire fraud and violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Prosecutors say VW employees knew as far back as 2006 that Volkswagen couldn't meet U.S. diesel emissions standards and had to install illegal software to cheat on emissions tests.

The federal complaint says Schmidt joined VW around 1997 and from 2012 to March 2015 was general manager for VW in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where he was primarily responsible for communicating and coordinating with U.S. regulatory agencies.

Schmidt was promoted to senior manager of VW in 2015 and played a direct role in VW’s response to questions from U.S. regulators about the emissions systems.

In the summer of 2015, Schmidt allegedly agreed to travel to the U.S. to meet with U.S. regulators concerning questions about the emissions systems of the diesel vehicles, but Mr. Schmidt allegedly hid the existence of the defeat device from U.S. regulators.

Schmidt has already appeared before a U.S. District Court in Miami but didn't enter a plea. He was ordered held for a hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 12, in front of Judge William C. Turnoff.

Mr. Schmidt is the second VW employee to be arrested in the U.S. over the emissions scandal. In September 2016, Volkswagen engineer James Robert Liang, 62, pleaded guilty to U.S. Department of Justice criminal charges for his part in creating and hiding the defeat devices.

Outside the U.S., a South Korean Volkswagen executive identified only by his surname, Yoon, was arrested in June 2016 and indicted in July. The 52-year-old Mr. Yoon was arrested in South Korea after prosecutors raided the offices of Volkswagen and determined Yoon submitted more than 100 false emissions and noise reports for the past six years.

South Korean prosecutors also accused Yoon of importing hundreds of Audi and VW cars that were never certified and should have never been allowed into the country.

Prosecutors found evidence Mr. Yoon switched electronic control units in VW Golf cars after the cars had flunked emissions tests while Yoon tried to fool the system by submitting test results for previous models.

Mr. Yoon was sentenced to 18 months in prison after the court said his crime had destroyed trust in Volkswagen.