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, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Volkswagen did not confirm the arrest, with a spokesperson telling the NYT that the company “continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice” but that it “would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters.” Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has commented on the case, but lawsuits agains the company name Schmidt as a key figure in Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” emissions scandal.
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. Volkswagen has already committed to paying a $14.7 billion settlement over the scandal, but Schmidt — an executive who maintained for months that discrepancies between emissions recorded in tests and during normal driving sessions were the result of technical problems, rather than evidence of cheating — would be the biggest name yet in the criminal investigation into the company.