The Volkswagen engineer has plead guilty the involvement of the German carmaker’s diesel emissions scandal.
James Liang pleaded guilty to a violation of the clean air act, a wire fraud count, and a consumer fraud count. He is the first person who is charged as part of the US Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the Volkswagen’s rigging federal air-pollution tests.
The German automobile company earlier agreed to spend up to $16bn to address environmental, state and claims by vehicle owners.
Mr. Liang, a German national worked in VW’s diesel development department in Germany from 1983 to May 2008, before moving to the US. He has been part of a team of engineers based in Michigan that conducted emissions tests on the diesel engine which at the center of the scam.
He was facing five years in prison, however, by cooperating with the US federal government, he should be able to reduce his jail time. His trial is scheduled to start in January 2017.
The diesel emission scam came to light after an investigation found that many Volkswagen cars were sold in America, loaded software which could detect when they were being tested.
The so-called “defeat device” changes the performance of the engines accordingly to improve results.
The German car giant to its credit has admitted cheating emissions tests in the US after they got caught.