Senior VW Exec Arrested in Miami over Dieselgate

By Christian Stampfer on 9 January 2017
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Herbert Diess, r., at the VW media event in Detroit Sunday

Herbert Diess, r., at the VW media event in Detroit Sunday

DETROIT—A top Volkswagen executive was arrested Saturday evening as he prepared to board a flight from Miami to Germany, accused of deceiving federal regulators about the use of special software that cheated on emissions tests.

Oliver Schmidt, who as general manager of the engineering and environmental office for VW of America had served as the beleaguered automaker’s top emissions compliance executive in the United States, was charged with defrauding the government and violating the Clean Air Act

According to an affidavit from an FBI agent that was unsealed Monday, Mr. Schmidt misled regulators who asked the automaker why its diesel-powered vehicles emitted higher emissions on the road compared to during tests.

In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted it had programmed its diesels to only turn off their pollution controls during emissions tests. The scandal has since become known as “Dieselgate.”

Volkswagen said in a statement Monday that it is cooperating with the Department of Justice Department investigation. “It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters,” the statement said.

Despite the arrest, Volkswagen held a media event in Detroit on the eve of the North American International Auto Show. At least one executive from the company’s headquarters in Germany, Herbert Diess, was in attendance. When asked by another reporter if some executives had been afraid to attend the Detroit show for fear of arrest, he replied, “I’m here, at least.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)