By on January 6, 2017


The first person sentenced in the sprawling Volkswagen emissions scandal is headed to jail in South Korea, but the man who helped design the defeat smog-spewing engines will have to wait for his punishment.

Reuters reports an executive of VW’s South Korean division was handed a sentence of one year, six months today for his side-role in the diesel deception. Meanwhile, a German engineer who was the first employee charged in the scandal will cool his heels a little while longer.

It seems he’s just too useful.

The Korean exec, known only by his surname Yun, fabricated emissions documents and noise-level tests to gain the certification needed to import the vehicles. Besides document fabrication and obstruction of work, authorities charged Yun with violating environmental rules. South Korea decertified 80 VW Group models in August.

“Volkswagen has by itself undermined its credibility as a global brand as a result of this crime which has caused grave social and economic damages,” Seoul Central District Court said in a statement.

Investigations continue into that country’s role in the scandal. Already, VW’s Korean division has seen a $31.87 million fine for false advertising claims.

In California, the long-time engineer who helped design the ill-fated diesel motors has seen his sentencing delayed. James R. Liang, who joined the company in 1983 and was part of the team that crafted the emissions-compromised TDI engines, won’t learn his fate on February 1.

According to Reuters, Liang’s knowledge has proved very useful to U.S. investigators.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox has delayed the sentencing to May 3, “to allow more time for defendant’s cooperation in the investigation.” In a court filing, Cox claimed Liang was “cooperating with the government in the investigation and the potential prosecution of others.”

Liang left Germany to work for the automaker’s U.S. division in 2008, after helping develop a crop of new “clean diesel” engines designed to spur American sales.

[Image: SalFalco/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

33 Comments on “As Volkswagen Exec Heads to the Slammer, an Engineer Awaits His Fate...”

  • avatar
    April S

    Did anyone from General Motors management serve any jail time for the deaths caused by those faulty ignition switches?

    Just wondering…

    • 0 avatar

      Not that I know of.

      There’s a difference between a genuine error and deliberate fraud.

      Even if the results of incompetence are worse, it tends to not get prosecuted as aggressively as outright premeditated attempts to break the law.

      • 0 avatar
        April S

        You would think negligence would be enough.

        • 0 avatar

          @April…Should we lock up the executives at Takata ? Why stop there ? . Lets lock up every management guy at every car company that authorized using Takata Air bags

        • 0 avatar

          No I wouldn’t, as intent is a major determinant in the severity of punishment.

          This is a longstanding concept, and not something that was just invented recently to benefit GM.

          In general it appears that the sentences for criminal fraud are significantly higher than those for negligent homicide in a given jurisdiction.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @ bikegoesbaa: Thanks for clarifying this so succinctly. There is no moral equivalence between the GM debacle and the VW scandal, but that meme persists in these pages.

      • 0 avatar

        It was not a genuine error. It was a deliberate attempt at deception. GM’s engineer tried to cover it up by changing the part without changing the part number. Period. He SAYS he does not remember, but that is BS. Besides, if this were a Clean Water Act violation, it would not matter if it were an error/mistake or fraud. The US Gov. would per sue criminal charges.

    • 0 avatar


      Zee Obama Administration set zee precedent early on – telegraphed widely by Eric “Place” Holder and continued by Loretta -“Do Nothing” Lynch – that zee enforcement of true law & order by the Department of Justice & U.S. Government (on behalf of zee citizens) against corporate citizens would be exceedingly and rarely enforced in such a way whereby a) any executive was criminally prosecuted, or b) revenue or profits were genuinely or meaningfully impacted by any significant penalties or fines on a relative basis (especially true of Wall Street Firms, banks and “Investment” Entities – that serve as a major source of both D & R campaign funding), so it was normal to see firms ,Ikea Goldman Sachs pay an agreed upon (i.e. settlement) fine equating to approx 1/2 of a percent of the gains they reaped from clearly illegal behavior.

      If one didn’t know any better, they’d probably come to believe that the system of justice no longer has relevance to or is applicable to corporations, particularly of the financial kind, based on real world, factual events, transgressions and clear violations of established law (even serious violations).

      • 0 avatar

        Alternate explanation: for the entirety of human history, money and resources have reliably provided significant immunity to the law as applied to common people.

        The current legal near-invincibility enjoyed by the wealthy is just a direct continuation of this unsurprising trend.

        This applies both to individuals and large corporations.

        Well-capitalized celebrities routinely beat charges that would ruin a regular person; or they get off with a slap on the wrist. Vince Neil only did 15 days in jail and he *killed somebody* way back in 1984.

        This dynamic definitely did not start with the Obama administration.

        Nobody went to jail for Love Canal or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire either.

      • 0 avatar

        Does anyone read what deadweight writes any more? It sounds like a drunk Archie Bunker muttering a combination of Breitbart and zerohedge.

    • 0 avatar

      Not Yet April, that I am aware of. That is because Korea doesn’t waste time with “innocent until proven guilty” and the attorneys holding GM accountable issue are more interested in the money they can acquire from the loss of life one than justice being served. U.S. attorneys won’t waste time to prosecute, they will look for ways to generate income from this tragedy.

    • 0 avatar

      the guy jailed was tried by a South Korean court, in Korea. what does GM have to do with this?

  • avatar

    Germany will never let VW go belly up.

    • 0 avatar

      True, but this doesn’t mean that VW won’t get GM’ed and see it’s management housecleaned out, or get fully Renault’ed via an outright nationalization.

      The government might not let a major employer bite the dust, but (especially in Europe) they wouldn’t have an issue with piercing the corporate veil, going after directors, senior managers and such.

      VW is probably trying to avoid having to go cap-in-hand to the government in order to avoid such a fate. Most executives would not want to go through what Rick Wagoner and Fritz Henderson (justifiably) had to go through at GM.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Turbo Is Black Magic: Bigger question is how long until the stock drops 90% to what is should be?
  • SCE to AUX: Agreed. None of those numbers mean anything to anyone, but they do fit with the class envy narrative that...
  • bumpy ii: Minor correction: 20R = 2.2 liters, 22R = 2.4 liters.
  • Master Baiter: “Biden hasn’t done jack crap to influence the supply or demand for petroleum...
  • 05lgt: There aren’t nearly 81 million billionaires, you don’t follow the senate, can’t parse the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber