By on December 3, 2017


One of the handful of Volkswagen Group executives that have been forced to appear in front of a judge over the company’s widespread emission scandal, Oliver Schmidt, has exclaimed he was misused by his employer after issuing a guilty plea. Unless the charges are revised prior to sentencing, the former VW employee has copped to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and violating the Clean Air Act. A third charge of aiding and abetting wire fraud was rolled into the conspiracy charge.

The admission to corporate wrongdoing was made in August. However the claim that the company had taken advantage of him came later via a letter to U.S. judge Sean Cox. 

“I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or ‘Dieselgate’,” Schmidt wrote. The letter was filed in the court documents and later published in Germany’s Bild am Sonntag before being shared by Reuters.

Schmidt headed the Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, until February of 2015. In his letter to the judge, he claimed he had agreed to follow a script issued by Volkswagen management and a high-ranking lawyer, during a meeting with Alberto Ayala, a California Air Resources Board official.

“In hindsight, I should never have agreed to meet with Dr Ayala on that day,” he wrote. “Or better yet, I should have gone to that meeting and ignored the instructions given to me and told Dr Ayala that there is a defeat device in the VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade. I did not do that and that is why I find myself here today.”

U.S. prosecutors have charged eight current and former Volkswagen executives at this time. Schmidt’s legal team is pressing for a reduced sentence but he’s facing up to seven years in prison and a fine between $40,000 and $400,000 due to the nature of the crimes.

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5 Comments on “Accused VW Executive Claims to Have Been ‘Misused’ by Company...”

  • avatar

    Sure doesn’t seem like justice – VW as a company gets to put this behind them by just writing the US govt a $4.3 billion check. This guy way down the pecking order is looking at couple years in prison and the top brass who dreamed up this scheme are home free as long as they plan their travel arrangements carefully.
    Seems DoJ could have been more creative – the $1.5 billion violations fine, sure, but then matched with
    – $1 billon security bond, automatically forfeit if any further violation in next x years and matched with a nice “whistleblower” incentive
    – $1.5 billion criminal penalty + 25 million per month per absent criminal defendant uncapped fine (if they are any way employed, compensated, indemnified, etc. by VW or affiliates anywhere in world.)
    This would be more serious change factor, encourage the company to clean house a bit more, and make VW decide to either cooperate or exit USA market.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm, a German testifying that “I vas only following orders”.

  • avatar

    Sacrificial lamb? His belated wish that he had done something different rings hollow with me…if the script had worked, and he was in the clear, he surely wouldn’t have been complaining.

  • avatar

    Reading his claim, I can’t help but think of this scene from the classic movie “Breaker Morant” when Morant and Handcock are marched off to face the firing squad at dawn.
    “This is what comes of empire building”

    The analogy to the film. Two Australian soldiers serving in South Africa are court marshaled and executed for what they thought were following orders to fight dirty. But to placate larger political outrage, the commanders made them scape goats and sacrificed with lives to keep piece with the Germans.

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