6/26/17

If VW Executive Comes To The U.S., The Authorities Will Be Waiting

Back in January, federal authorities filed criminal charges against six Volkswagen executives for their part in the company’s “dieselgate” scandal. Just last week, international arrest warrants were issued for some of those individuals who live in Germany, prompting lawyers for one engineer to warn him not to leave the country.

Jalopnik reports that legal aid has advised former head of development for VW Heinz-Jakob Neusser from leaving the country, lest he be arrested for conspiracy to defraud the United States, defraud VW’s U.S. customers, wire fraud, and violations of the Clean Air Act.

According to the Justice Department’s indictment [PDF], starting with the first model year 2009 of VW’s new “clean diesel” engine through model year 2016, Neusser and other co-conspirators installed or allowed for the installation of the software.

The defendants, according to the DOJ, then concealed the defeat devices and true emissions levels from U.S. customs, customers, and federal regulators in order to import the vehicles into the U.S.

While it was unclear at the time the indictment was released how the VW allegations would be resolved, then current U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch noted that the DOJ has previously worked with German authorities to resolve criminal issues against German residents.

Jalopnik reports that the German Constitution outlines certain extradition procedures that allow authorities to bring citizens to other European Union countries or an international court. However, those protections don’t go beyond Germany’s borders.

Because of this, Neusser’s lawyer has advised him to simply stay put.

“I have urgently advised my client not to leave Germany. Only here is it safe,” lawyer Annette Voges told German publication Bild Zeitung in comments over the weekend.

Neusser wouldn’t be the first VW executive to be arrested if he did happen to leave the country. Back in January, Oliver Schmidt, a former executive with VW’s regulatory compliance office, was arrested while visiting Miami.

Schmidt, who worked in the compliance office from 2014 until March 2015, reportedly played a central role in trying to excuse the findings of the West Virginia study that first found VW vehicles included so-called “defeat devices” that skirted federal emissions standards. He was charged with defrauding the U.S. government.

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