Six VW Execs Indicted Amid Fines in Emissions Scandal

Federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, the indictments of six Volkswagen executives in connection with that company’s deliberate deception of U.S regulators and American consumers about the emissions of it diesel engine cars.

Those named in the indictments are: Oliver Schmidt, former top emissions compliance manager for Volkswagen in the United States, who was arrested in Florida on January 7, 2017; the remaining five VW executives facing arrest are all believed to be in Germany are “Heinz-Jakob Neusser, 56, who oversaw the company’s brand; Jens Hadler, 50, who oversaw engine development; Richard Dorenkamp, 68, another supervisor of engine development; Bernd Gottweis, 69, who helped oversee quality management; and Jürgen Peter, 59, who was a liaison between regulatory agencies and Volkswagen.

Schmidt, who had been suspended by Volkswagen in 2015, a year after the scandal was first revealed, was about to board a plane to Germany when he was arrested in Miami. Earlier in 2016, in September, James Liang, a former engineer for VW in California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and violation of the Clean Air Act.

Charges for the six individuals are conspiracy to defraud the United States and customers, along with violation of the Clean Air Act. Although those indicted all held management-level positions, none of them were members of the Volkswagen board, perhaps protecting the company from civil lawsuits by shareholders.

Germany generally does not extradite people who are criminally charged in the United States; it remains uncertain at this time whether the five men indicted will ever face their charges in the United States or if Germany may try them instead. If the individuals travel outside of Germany in the future, they would face the possibility of extradition to the U.S., depending on their destinations.

The indictments were announced along with the settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Department of Justice for $4.3 billion in penalties after admitting guilt for making false statements about the cars they imported to the United States and obstructing investigations into the matter of 11 million cars that it had equipped with software designed to cheat during emissions testings, providing false readings.

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