A court in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday sentenced former Volkswagen engineer James Liang to 40 months in prison for his role in the company’s multi-year scheme to sell diesel cars that caused more pollution than legally allowed in the United States, Reuters reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox also ordered Liang to pay a $200,000 fine, 10 times the amount sought by federal prosecutors.
“The conspiracy perpetrated a massive and stunning fraud on the American consumer that attacked and destroyed the very foundation of our economic system”. Prosecutors had requested a 36-month prison term and a $20,000 fine.
The ruse worked for over eight years in the USA, with Liang and other VW employees falsely certifying to the EPA and California Air Resources Board the vehicles’ compliance with the Clean Air Act, and the automaker itself marketing the cars as “Clean Diesel”. His lawyer says he’s not “greedy or immoral” but followed orders to keep his job and support his family.
“What occurred here was wrong”, defence attorney Daniel Nixon said. “But he wasn’t the mastermind”. He could face up to seven years in prison and a fine of between $40,000 and $400,000 after pleading guilty to conspiring to mislead regulators and other charges.
Six other current and former VW executives have been charged though all are in Germany and unlikely to be extradited.
Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt, who had been in charge of the automaker’s engineering and environmental center in the USA, plans to plead guilty to some charges against him in a court.
So, they designed and implemented software to cheat on the government emissions tests while polluting far beyond legal limits on the road.