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

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Lawyers for a Volkswagen senior manager say his U.S. prison sentence shouldn't exceed 40 months for his role in the automaker's diesel emissions scandal.

The prison sentence and $400,000 United States fine for Schmidt were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws.

Schmidt led VW's engineering and environmental office in MI from 2012 to early 2015.

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Schmidt agreed to be deported to Germany after serving his sentence. Schmidt's plea deal stated that the former executive could face up to seven years in prison and between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines.

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

Schmidt, 48, the second and most senior employee to plead guilty in the affair, is among seven current and former VW executives that USA prosecutors have charged so far.

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

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Former Audi executive Giovanni Pamio also remains at large.

A study published in May found that excess nitrogen oxide from improperly configured diesel vehicles had contributed to about 38,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2015.

Schmidt traveled to the USA as the scandal was breaking on a mission to lie to U.S. and Californian authorities so Volkswagen could obtain regulatory approvals to sell 2016 model year diesel vehicles in the United States, according to prosecutors. Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme, which violated the Clean Air Act. That summer, A CARB official asked to speak to Schmidt about a discrepancy between VW's emissions numbers from lab testing and real-world emissions numbers from researchers at West Virginia University.

The scandal has cost Volkswagen billions of dollars in fines and settlements.

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