A Volkswagen executive has been arrested in the US over the dieselgate scandal.
Oliver Schmidt, who led the car manufacturer’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan from 2012 to March 2015, has been charged for his alleged role in the emissions fraud.
In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted to using “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests in hundreds of thousands of “clean diesel” vehicles. They were found to be emitting up to 40 times the legal pollution limit.
Last month the company agreed to pay $225 million (£180m) to resolve claims from owners of vehicles affected by the emissions scandal in the US.
Mr Schmidt, a German resident, was charged on Saturday with one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act, according to the Department of Justice.
It added by the summer of 2015, US regulators had discovered VW diesel vehicles emitted substantially higher emissions when being driven on the road than when undergoing standard emissions tests and had repeatedly asked VW for an explanation of this discrepancy.
The complaint alleges Schmidt knew the reason for this discrepancy was VW’s use of defeat device software.
The Department of Justice said: “Nevertheless, in the summer of 2015, Schmidt allegedly agreed to travel to the United States to participate in direct conversations with US regulators. According to the complaint, during in-person and teleconference meetings with US regulators, Schmidt hid the existence of the defeat device from the US regulators.
“A criminal complaint is merely an accusation and the accused is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.”
Volkswagen said in a statement: “Volkswagen continues to co-operate with the Department of Justice as we work to resolve remaining matters in the United States. It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personal matters.”
In the UK, more than 10,000 motorists are to challenge Volkswagen in court in the aftermath of its emissions scandal.
The country is among seven nations facing legal action from the European Commission over the fraud.