Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty to Fraud in U.S. Court
Lawyer Says Client is “One of Many”
Now nearly a year out from the EPA’s allegations of emissions cheating by Volkswagen on its TDI I-4 engines, the multifaceted saga is nowhere near closed and has entered a new chapter with one of its high-ranking engineers pleading guilty to fraud in a U.S. district court, Bloomberg reports. James Liang, a more than 30-year veteran with VW, described a decade-long conspiracy by VW employees and management to get its diesel engines to make it through the regulatory testing process, even though engineers realized from an early stage that there was no way the engine could pass strict U.S. emissions requirements without a special test mode designed to meet U.S. standards.
Emails presented in court show a concerted and deliberate effort to cheat U.S. regulators, with one email between Liang and a coworker saying, “If this goes through without problems, the function is probably truly watertight!” Liang’s work on the project started in 2006, when he was still working at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. He transferred to the U.S. to head up the company’s “Diesel Competence” unit in 2008.
Liang could face as many as five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. His cooperation in the case could have some bearing on his sentencing, which will be held in January. Liang’s lawyer, Daniel Nixon, says his client is “remorseful” and that he is “one of many” individuals involved in the emissions cheating scheme.