A Volkswagen executive has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government [nytimes.com] just days ahead of a likely settlement [nytimes.com] between Volkswagen and the Justice Department:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Volkswagen executive who faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two people with knowledge of the arrest said on Sunday, marking an escalation of the criminal investigation into the automaker's diesel emissions cheating scandal. Oliver Schmidt, who led Volkswagen's regulatory compliance office in the United States from 2014 to March 2015, was arrested on Saturday by investigators in Florida and is expected to be arraigned on Monday in Detroit, said the two people, a law enforcement official and someone familiar with the case.
After a study by West Virginia University first raised questions over Volkswagen's diesel motors in early 2014, Mr. Schmidt played a central role in trying to convince regulators that excess emissions were caused by technical problems rather than by deliberate cheating. Much of the data presented to regulators was fabricated, officials of the California Air Resources Board have said [nytimes.com]. Mr. Schmidt continued to represent Volkswagen after the company admitted in September that cars were programmed to dupe regulators. He appeared before a committee [parliament.uk] of the British Parliament in January, telling legislators that Volkswagen's behavior was not illegal in Europe.