Back in October a federal judge approved the largest automotive scandal settlement ever, nearly $15 billion, over Volkswagen’s emissions cheating crime. Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested another Volkswagen executive, who was attempting to get on a plane to Germany on Saturday. Oliver Schmidt used to be the general manager of the automobile company’s United States Engineering and Environmental Office before he transferred to Germany in 2015.
The New York Times reported the FBI arrested Schmidt at Miami International Airport. Schmidt faces the charges of disobeying the Clean Air Act and defrauding the United States government. Court documents cited by the New York Times indicate the disgraced executive may be able to provide information on other Volkswagen employees currently under government investigation.
FBI agent Ian Dinsmore said in an affidavit that Schmidt played a key role attempting to sway regulators into thinking excess emissions resulted due to technical issues instead of intentional cheating. According to the affidavit, Schmidt offered “reasons for the discrepancy other than the fact that VW was intentionally cheating on U.S. emissions tests, in order to allow VW to continue to sell diesel vehicles in the United States.”
Schmidt continued to work for Volkswagen after the scandal, and in January 2016 he spoke to a British Parliament committee, maintaining the shameful actions Volkswagen took weren’t illegal in Europe.
Schmidt isn’t the first Volkswagen employee charged in the scandal’s wake, but he could be the most high profile person charged. Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to defraud the United States public in September 2016. After Schmidt’s arrest, a Volkswagen spokesperson told The New York Times the company “continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice” but “it would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personal matters.”