As Volkswagen Exec Heads to the Slammer, an Engineer Awaits His Fate

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
as volkswagen exec heads to the slammer an engineer awaits his fate

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)]

Join the conversation
  • April S April S on Jan 06, 2017

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

    • See 19 previous
    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Jan 10, 2017

      @28-Cars-Later It's very obvious when you're drinking and when you're not.

  • Mikey Mikey on Jan 06, 2017

    Germany will never let VW go belly up.

    • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jan 06, 2017

      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.

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.