On Saturday night, FBI agents arrested Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt. He was in Miami International Airport and was on his way to fly off to Germany when the officials caught up with him. They knew it wasn’t an easy task and they had to move fast because they were about to arrest a corporate executive for alleged wrongdoing.
Schmidt was a former Volkswagen top emissions compliance executive that was based in the United States. He was charged with defrauding the government as well as Clean Air Act violation. Based from an FBI agent’s affidavit that was released on Monday, he played a vital role in the company’s cover-up of their diesel emissions cheating. Schmidt also warned other executives in Germany that Volkswagen may face criminal charges because of their actions per New York Times.
How Cheating Was Accomplished
Schmidt said that the Volkswagen vehicles had a built-in software that is able to detect if the car is undergoing tests. The dubbed ‘defeat device’ will then increase its pollution controls so the cars could pass the emission test.
— Richard Bistrong (@RichardBistrong) January 9, 2017
Back in July 2015, high-ranking executives were already briefed by Schmidt about the risks facing Volkswagen. Despite this, the executives chose not to disclose the defeat device, per the complaint. So the cover-up continued until August according to the affidavit per Detroit Free Press.This is contrary to the company’s timeline, which claimed their managers had no idea what was going on until September 2015.
A Stroke Of Luck
For the FBI, Schmidt’s arrest was truly a stroke of luck. Prosecuting people who are suspected of being responsible for the emissions scandals was challenging because many of them are in Germany. Germany is a country that does not usually extradite their citizens.
Mr. Oliver Schmidt told Parliament that Volkswagen had already taken out the software being questioned. However, he insisted that the software was not nefarious (abominable). He added, “This software is not defined as a defeat device in Europe.”
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