A key Volkswagen executive has been arrested by the FBI in Florida over his involvement with the diesel emissions scandal.
The executive in question, Oliver Schmidt, acted as the top emissions compliance manager for Volkswagen in the United States and was arrested on Friday on conspiracy to defraud the United States. Schmidt is accused of playing a key role in ensuring United States regulators didn’t find out about the German brand cheating emissions.
The New York Times reports that Schmidt tried to convince regulators that excess emissions of the brand’s diesel models were produced by technical issues, shortly after a 2014 study from West Virginia University raised concerns about the engines.
In an affidavit by FBI agent Ian Dinsmore, Schmidt is accused of “offering 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’s arrest comes as the criminal investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions ramps up after the automaker agreed to pay over $15 billion in compensation to affected owners.