Volkswagen's diesel emissions cheating scandal continues as the FBI reportedly arrested an executive on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US.
According to The New York Times, Oliver Schmidt, head of VW's regulatory compliance office from 2014 to early 2015, was taken into custody on Sunday.
In the fall of 2015, the German automaker admitted that 11 million of its diesel cars were equipped with sophisticated "defeat devices" used to cheat on emissions tests.
The scam produced environmentally friendly results when tested. But take the car out on the road, and it pumped out 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that causes asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and generally adds to that gray haze surrounding most American cities at rush hour.
A day after the news broke, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down from his position, but denied any direct knowledge of the scheme.
<p,>Schmidt, meanwhile, is expected to be arraigned today in Detroit, the Times said, citing a law enforcement official and "someone familiar with the case."
As reported by the newspaper, Schmidt argued that excess emissions were caused by technical problems, not deliberate cheating—a theory the California Air Resources Board refuted.
"Volkswagen continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice as we work to resolve remaining matters in the United States," the company said in a statement to PCMag. "It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters."
The FBI did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
Just last week, the Times suggested Volkswagen is eyeing a $2 billion settlement, eager to end the federal investigation before the end of the month. It remains unclear whether Schmidt's arrest will affect the pending deal.
In January 2016, the Department of Justice—on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—sued Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche for violating EPA standards and Clean Air Act violations.