A top automaker executive recently got an unexpected jolt while on a Florida vacation. The director of Volkswagen's regulatory compliance efforts was arrested on white collar crime charges.
Oliver Schmidt is suspected of knowing that VW installed software that enabled its diesel vehicles to falsely pass American emissions tests and violate the Clean Air Act. He's accused of misleading U.S. regulators and defrauding the federal government.
Schmidt is also to face federal allegations of wire fraud, according to a news report.
VW has admitted that its vehicles were rigged to beat the emissions tests. It has agreed to spend about $11 billion to buy back the vehicles and to compensate vehicle owners.
A former VW engineer recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and to violate the Clean Air Act. USA Today reports that he is cooperating with authorities, as are a pair of unidentified VW employees who work in engine development.
Nearly three years ago, VW learned that a study showed that two out of three of the company's diesel vehicles were emitting nitrogen dioxide levels up to 40 times the allowed amount. That day, Schmidt wrote to a colleague that "It should first be decided whether we are honest."
Federal investigators believe he was then active in a conspiracy to deceive U.S. regulators about the German auto giant's diesel engines.
For those who face charges locally, a Fort Myers white collar defense attorney can help protect your rights and freedom in negotiations and at trial.