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Greenpeace slams failure to hold European VW execs accountable for dieselgate as ‘scandalous’

Motors | Published:

Environmental organisation is demanding more action against European Volkswagen executives following the imprisonment of former US manager for his involvement in dieselgate

Greenpeace has renewed its demands for European Volkswagen executives to be held accountable for any involvement in the dieselgate scandal following the imprisonment of a former US manager.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, who was VW’s emissions compliance manager for the US between 2012 and February 2015, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 (circa £300,000) by a US District Court on December 6.

Schmidt, a German national, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and violating the Clean Air Act.

Mel Evans, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “While US regulators are coming down hard on VW, in Europe it has managed to avoid any criminal charges and has paid no compensation to consumers.

“VW knew its cars were spewing out dangerous levels of pollution that puts people’s health at risk. It is right that VW, and any guilty executives, are properly held to account to deter more of this type of inexcusable behaviour.

“But it is scandalous that while cities across Europe are in the midst of a public health crisis caused by air pollution, VW has managed to duck its responsibility almost entirely and even continues to sell its polluting diesel cars here.”

The dieselgate scandal, which erupted in September 2015, has cost Volkswagen close to $30bn (circa £22bn), and the firm has faced criminal and civil charges in the US.

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In Europe, however, the firm hasn’t faced any charges and has refused to compensate customers, claiming the defeat devices fitted to cheat emissions tests haven’t affected market value.

While it has offered to “fix” the nine million affected vehicles, it has also admitted that the “fix” may not make a difference to real-world emissions.

Commenting on Schmidt’s sentencing, a company spokesperson in the UK said: “Volkswagen continues to co-operate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals. It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases.”

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