Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty for Involvement in Dieselgate

A VW engineer pleaded guilty today in a federal court in Detroit for his involvement with the automaker’s diesel emissions cheat device. This makes him the first person to face any criminal charges in connection with the emissions scandal.

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen engineer James Liang is being charged with “conspiracy to commit fraud against U.S. regulators and customers and to violate the Clean Air Act.” He will be sentenced in January, and he could face up to five years in prison. Bloomberg‘s report states that Liang’s guilty plea comes after a year-long investigation by the Justice Department, which has faced tremendous pressure to hold more individuals accountable in high-profile cases, such as this diesel emissions cheating scandal, which has been dubbed “Dieselgate” by the automotive community.

James Liang is a long-time VW employee who reportedly worked on the team that developed the diesel cheat device for the VW Jetta back in 2006. He is also accused of assisting Volkswagen in its attempt to deceive U.S. regulators during their investigation into how the cheat devices worked.

Liang told the judge, “I know VW did not disclose the defeat device to U.S. regulators in order to sell the cars in the U.S. That’s what makes me guilty.”

His plea comes after VW has agreed to pay at least $16.5 billion to settle a whole host of claims. They also face ongoing investigations in Europe where the European Commission is encouraging consumer groups to take legal action against VW.

Here’s my opinion on what’s going on so far:

In addition to fines, if VW executives are to be paid for the responsibility of overseeing the manufacturing and sales of products, then they should be held fully responsible for such gross negligence. They have already been caught not telling the truth numerous times. James Liang is just a scapegoat for VW executives, who use a lot of money, power, and influence to get off squeaky clean.

This scandal comes amid the Takata airbags scandal and the GM ignition switch scandal, among other things. How many people have died from those? Far too many. Millions of people a year die from respiratory ailments, while millions more are diagnosed with asthma. How many asthma attacks have been triggered by Volkswagen’s emissions cheat device?

Liang is essentially saying “I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids!” The judge and attorneys were soon seen peeling out in a green van marked “Mystery Machine.”

In my eyes, it should be former VW chairman, Martin Winterkorn, who should be dragged off to prison. James Liang was following orders given to him by greedy pricks on the other side of the Atlantic. He was ultimately the one who gave the emissions cheating project a green light, but he’s got enough money and influence in the European Commission to stay out of court. Winterkorn must surrender his golden parachute and his gigantic pension, and serve the rest of his life in a federal prison for the crimes he and Volkswagen committed against governments and consumers.

I’m wondering how much VW is going to pay Liang’s family in exchange for his agreeing to fall on the sword for the emperor. It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

It seems that VW was on top of the world, and now their empire is going to slowly come crashing down on their heads. It was a wicked and wild wind (filled with the emissions their cars spewed out) that opened the doors that has brought down the end of an era. It’s only a matter of time before VW is forced to sell off their many assets – they own Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, and other automakers. They’re a true giant in the world’s automotive market, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re a shell of what they once were.

Some Lucky Buyers!

A stable of 11 of the world’s fastest super cars recently sold at auction for 3.1 Million Euros in France (about $4 Million USD).  Originally, the cars belonged to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.  What a mouthful.  The cars were seized in 2011 by French authorities under the alleged suspicion that Teodoro stole public funds to buy the cars and other items.  While that’s bad, I’m more interested in the cars (sorry).  Law’s not my calling.

When French authorities raided Mangue’s 101-room mansion near the Champs Elysees in Paris, France.  The cars seized had little to no mileage on them, and they are:  Two Bugatti Veyrons, a Ferrari Enzo, a Maserati MC12, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Ferrari 599 GTO, a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Maybach 62S Landulet, an Aston Martin One-77, and a pair of Bentley’s (a Mulsanne and a Continental SuperSports).

International Business Times reported that international auction house Drouot sold the cars.  Considering the fact that a Bugatti Veyron, even a used one will set you back at least $1 Million, the winning bidders made themselves the deal of a century.

Other items seized and sold at the auction were vintage wines, rare jewels, and paintings by artists such as Degas and Renoir.

Court documents revealed to the press that the cars were part of a fleet of 26 rare and expensive cars shipped to France from the U.S. in 2009 at a total cost of $12 Million.  The remaining 15 cars were shipped to Equitorial Guinea in 2010.  These same documents reveal that an arrest warrant has been issued to countries such as the U.S., France, England, New Guinea, Australia, and Germany.  The grounds?  Misused public funds.  International Business Times also reports that Equitorial Guinea is appealing the case to the U.N. and have the investigation blocked because of diplomatic immunity.  They claim that the Paris mansion is part of the country’s embassy.   Only time and a U.N. court will give the verdict.