Volkswagen executive sentenced to seven years in jail over 'dieselgate'

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VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 USA vehicles and 100,000 in Canada.

German Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt. Schmidt previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act and conspiring to defraud the U.S. government in August for his role in Dieselgate.

Lawyers spent roughly 90 minutes, on Wednesday in federal court in Detroit, giving different views about Oliver Schmidt's culpability in the scandal.

Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just "read from a script" provided by his superiors at Volkswagen.

"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States".

In a statement to the court, Schmidt admitted guilt, saying, "I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry".

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Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. £298,000). Both the imprisonment and fine were at the top end of sentencing guidelines.

The government said he later misled USA investigators and destroyed documents.

In arguing for a seven-year sentence, prosecutors last month said Schmidt had participated in "one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in American history" and led efforts to cover up the company's misconduct in the summer of 2015.

In March, VW brought an end to Washington's criminal pursuit of the company, agreeing to pay Dollars 4.3 billion in civil and criminal fines and plead guilty to charges it likewise had defrauded the United States and violated the Clean Air Act.

Liang and Schmidt are among eight VW executives criminally charged for their alleged roles in the scheme.

Half a dozen other former VW executives are still at large, but Schmidt's stiff sentence could lessen the odds of others indicted in the case being prosecuted, with many residing in Germany, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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