A Volkswagen executive has been arrested by the FBI as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the company’s emissions scandal, the New York Times reports. Oliver Schmidt, who ran Volkswagen’s US regulatory compliance office between 2014 and 2015, was arrested on Saturday and will be charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software known as “defeat devices” in 475,000 U.S. 2.0-liter diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing. In reality, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.
Schmidt is not the first person to face criminal charges over Dieselgate: Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the American public last September.
The news comes as Volkswagen was nearing a deal to resolve criminal and civil allegations over its diesel cheating, crucial steps toward moving past the scandal, which has cost it billions of dollars and its reputation.
In the UK as well, the law firm Harcus Sinclair UK said on Monday it was launching legal actionVW, seeking compensation for British drivers affected by the diesel emissions scandal.
In Britain, Europe’s second biggest autos market, 1.2 million cars are affected and the law firm, which is being supported by Slater and Gordon, said it would take its case to the High Court and seek compensation for consumers.