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STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Government Prosecution of Errant VW Execs Is Out Of Control
By Daily Bell Staff - January 10, 2017

Bloomberg Volkswagen Executives in Germany to Face U.S. Charges in Diesel … Some of Volkswagen AG’s top executives may find it risky to leave Germany as U.S. prosecutors prepare to charge more company officials.  Oliver Schmidt, a VW executive, was arrested in Miami as he was returning to Germany from vacation and faces charges of misleading regulators about the automaker’s diesel-emissions cheating devices. Prosecutors are preparing to charge more high-level German-based executives in the case, a person familiar with the matter said.  Schmidt’s arrest caught many VW executives by surprise, including some attending an auto show in Detroit this week, according to another person. – Bloomberg

Were VW officials dishonest and manipulative? Possibly so. Did anyone get badly harmed by their emissions “cheating.” Any hard evidence of that? Probably not.

This is a witch hunt seemingly of greater urgency than catching pedophile priests.  Why? Because VW has money.   White collar crime does pay — for the government, in the fines they manage to extract from the perpetrators.

The way the article reads, this guy’s own lawyer, told the US government he’d be in the USA on holiday. They arrest him as he is about to board the plane home and throw him in a brown jumpsuit and leg irons.

More:

Lawyers for some senior executives in Germany have already warned their clients not to leave the country, according to a third person.  The arrest and the looming charges against senior executives show that the year-long investigation into the emissions cheating is coming to a head in the final days of the Obama administration.

A multibillion-dollar settlement between the carmaker and the Justice Department will probably come this week, people familiar with the matter have said. VW admitted last year that about 11 million diesel cars worldwide were outfitted with so-called defeat devices, embedded algorithms used to game emissions tests.

Schmidt, 48, who was VW’s liaison with U.S. environmental regulators, appeared in federal court in Miami Monday, where a judge ordered him held in custody as a flight risk. His lawyer sought Schmidt’s release, saying his client had alerted the government he was visiting and was willing to speak with investigators and face charges.

That wasn’t enough for the US though. The court filing is a kind of road map of charges aimed at high level German execs.

Other senior levels execs could be arrested this way and the result will be that such execs will stop travelling to the US. The government and VW have been trying to reach a full settlement before Donald Trump is sworn in as president of Jan. 20.

VW has admitted to cheating regarding emission regulations that could be bypassed using algorithms that could lower the amount of pollution generated during testing. Some execs are thus under scrutiny in both Germany and the US.

But really one wonders just how bad the emissions problem really is. In fact from a libertarian standpoint one could make an argument that such standards are not necessary at all.

If it were really a problem, certain manufacturers might make an issue out of the pollution and raise prices on cars that polluted less. Additionally, individuals might put together lists of cars that polluted too much, thus putting pressure on those companies to do less polluting.

If it were a serious issue ultimately as well, insurance companies might get  involved and raise rates on polluters.

What people would not do is make pollution an offense demanding jailing. There probably isn’t even any proof that the kind of pollution generated by VS diesel cars makes one sick … or sicker. Diesel cars are even known for being less polluting than non-Diesel vehicles.

Conclusion: The idea of putting people in jail for minor infractions such as circumventing air pollution requirements is ridiculous. You’re not killing anyone. You’re not even injuring them. It’s just one more way to use government monopoly power to extract money from people who otherwise rightly wouldn’t have to pay.

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  • WalkingHorse

    All things considered, VW execs should be given bonuses for taking initiative in an act of civil disobedience against a totalitarian government agency – the EPA. Waiting for the crocodile to eat everyone else is not a survival strategy.

    • GH

      I don’t think bonuses are in order, but civil disobedience against the out-of-control EPA would be commendable IF that’s what they were doing. Unfortunately, I would guess profitability from selling attractively fuel efficient cars was the real motive. These guys were complicit in fraud, yes. Jailing offenses? Probably not. However, the EPA (often just as fraudulent) likes to come down hard on “green house gas” producers as a highly visible lesson for others who might be (or already are, but not yet detected) thinking of the same actions…also, it looks good for the EPA’s fans who are completely duped…even militant…about the (fraudulent) man made climate change issue.

      • 45clive

        With cars, better performance from a speed and acceleration point of view equals more pollution. When I was a kid we’d put Holley double pump four barreled carburetors and Streetmaster intake manifolds with free-flow dual exhausts on our V8 engines. Drag race, anyone? Some people would also do internal things, such as cams. The result? It was like pouring gasoline straight into your engine. Really bad gas mileage and pollution, but also really fast quarter mile times. Since most teenagers and twenty year olds street raced in the sixties and seventies….

        WV was just giving people what they wanted – better performing cars. Even if their dinky engines were not meeting the pollution standards, who cares? Personally, I think it’s just those who want to punish Germany for losing two wars. If Ford or Honda did the same thing, it would be brushed under the carpet.

  • Phil McGrath

    What’s so ironic to me is that people are going to jail here for being dishonest with the government, but the Wells Fargo execs who allowed the dishonesty of their employees opening fraudulent accounts for their customers, causing real harm to everyday working class people, are walking free. Go figure!

    • GH

      It’s what we’ve seen for decades, if not centuries Phil, honesty and government are like oil and water. Banksters are the privileged class and industrialists are persona non grata. “it’s not who you know, it’s who you _ _ _ _ (fill in the blank).”

  • stevor

    shillary and o’bama are the ones who belong in PRISON:
    Murder – in Benghazi
    Treason – in supplying Syrian “rebels” (al qaida) with money and weapons

  • apberusdisvet

    We always hear about the big fines; undoubtedly VW will have to pay $4billion or some similar amount. But what happens to this money? No one ever tracks it. Will it be used for Obama’s retirement? Will Yellen grab it from the Treasury and give it to Merkel or Deutschbank to solve the NWO problems both have? Will it go to pay down the debt? Extremely doubtful. Count me a cynic.

    • James Clander

      It’ll go to the Military industrial complex to help with more USA Wars.

  • 10’s of millions of cars were running around for years and were regularly tested, incl. my 1999 Opel, and nobody found anything wrong. Then a professor at a small US university tested some German cars and found they were polluting more than permitted … even if noone had noticed it before … and VW admitted they had been cheating … or rather installed some Bosch equipment with software that could be manipulated … to increase the pollution … if you wanted … and the VW share dropped 50% in value … an opportunity to buy … because today the share is almost back where it started. What a stupid story. My Opel garage has told me my Opel does not pollute more than permitted since 1999.

  • Bruce C.

    I don’t have a pony in this race so it doesn’t matter to me, but isn’t this exactly what corporate “non-personhood” is that the DB et al seem to advocate? Isn’t this an example of corporate executives being held personally liable for corporate decisions and actions?

    • MarcS

      @BruceC
      Bingo,
      I understand under Corporate law and individual cannot be held personally liable for the corporation’s actions.
      It appears to be another publicity stunt of the pathetic epa.whores.gov in action. I’m sure this will cost a lot to defend, as the epa can drag the case along forever, probably bankrupting this guy.
      Good ole american injustice at its finest, and at the same time initiating more areas of trade wars.
      usa is a bankrupt and evil empire, backed in a corner due to its immoral and unjust monetary system, which is about to collapse, as evidenced by these types of incidents happening, and wars, and coups, and cia murders, and (I can go on forever)…….

  • lulu

    Ralph Nader would argue your point that no one was harmed and actually quotes numbers of deaths as a result. He also is calling for sentencing. But yes, were the banking criminals held accountable wouldn’t many shout ?…”Finally some justice!!”

    • Bruce C.

      The “problem” is that there are no laws against what the “banksters” do so the same kind of indictments can’t be made, at least legally.

      • lulu

        Too bad!!

      • panhead20

        Many corporate execs violated Sarbanes-Oxley, but no one was prosecuted. Just paid a fine, cost of doing business.

    • disqus_1Op5S8jvui

      Can you please get it just get it clearly: According to the WHO in Geneva from June 2013 there is serious and indisputable report that names ALL diesel fumes straightforward CARCINOGENIC beyond any doubt signed by seven expert professors!
      The nastier fumes that the VW and AUDI and Porsche produces are even worse.
      I suggest you find and read the report as I have done it is there on the WHO web site and we shall all demand that the crooks of VW go to jail, the real crooks, not the small guys.

      • James Clander

        So one rant (top of page ) wasn’t enough ?
        Repeating the same BS doesn’t make it any saner.
        Lock up a few more criminal USA executives would be a great start.

        • disqus_1Op5S8jvui

          cleansing of big crime has to start from somewhere. This is a right time to start caring up the filthy rot.

  • lulu

    In the Public Interest: An Open Letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch–Prosecution or Guilty Pleas for Corporate Crime

  • mary

    I suspect this witch hunt was engineered to keep the Germans in line vis-a-vis the Russian sanctions. the EPA is a rogue bureaucracy that wastes money while destroying lives.

  • Douteux55

    Agree totally with Mary. We wage our wars both physically and economically. We just eviscerated Deutsche Bank and we’re after VW. Crying shame really. it would be truly uplifting to see the VW threaten to remove their plants here in the US and bail on all their investments here. In fact, Germany should level sanctions against us, wouldn’t that beat all! Wish Europe had the guts to do that!

  • Douteux55

    Someone wondered where all the money goes from these bilkings. It goes to all the secret ops programs and DARPA, the defense/security invention agency. Most of these charges are off the books they’re so huge. If the public knew what the government was spending on its secret weapons, bases, chemicals, psych experiments, etc- we’d storm the Capitol- and they’re afraid of it.

  • panhead20

    When you stop putting people in jail for smoking pot which doesn’t kill anyone then you can make the argument that the VW execs shouldn’t go to jail.
    The only way you will get corporate execs to obey the law is to put them in jail for breaking the law. Fines are just a cost of doing business and are factored into their budgets.

  • disqus_1Op5S8jvui

    No it is NOT! Enough is enough. Finding and putting in jail the really responsible managers at the top is the ting to do at long last for once!

    Clearing out some of the stinking rot in a crooked country like Germany who had the audacity to defraud in cold blood millions of clients and organizations all over the world for so long and pollute our lungs with scientifically proven carcinogenic fumes is the most serious crime I can think of since the explosion of lethal gases in India by Union Carbide and the fumes of Dachau. This is my opinion of this serious crime against humanity that cannot be forgiven or let to buy its way out, Has to be exemplary! Thank you.

    • James Clander

      Where was your strident bellowing when USA financial Giants rooted the World economy -causing chaos & real wealth punishment on 1000’s of millions across the Globe? NO USA Co Directors were ever punished!

      Union Carbide -another US Giant Company has NEVER paid more than a derisory pittance to the 1000s of affected victims. Criminal bastards

      What the fumes of Dachau has to do with it must be a Jewish thing in your head. Now the Zionist Israeli Government over the past 60+ years have committed their own form of Holocaust on the Palestinians living in Ghettos controlled by Jews.

      You need to have a close look in the mirror before sprouting total BS.

      • disqus_1Op5S8jvui

        Very simply the serious crimes against humanity by the then largest auto company in the world defrauding from health millions of clients is a crime to be punishable by serious jai terms the like of Enron etc.
        Simple. It is a huge crime against humanity and corporate rules of engagement,.

  • Praetor

    We should be proud the government is saving us from the big bad wolf. And the reason for the EPA and emission standards ‘global climate warming’. Yeah, government saves us again. So, we have vehicles that cost us more and that is not just the cost of the vehicle itself. All I won’t to know how do I get one of those devices. And the EPA sucks.!!!

  • georgesilver

    Actually it’s good fun to watch all of these multinationals, vested interests, politicians and bankers biting each other like panicked rats as the corrupt ship sinks below the waves.
    It also reminds me of vultures arguing over what remains of stinking carrion.

  • Tsigantes

    Since the US congress has given the FBI the mandate to arrest and deport any citizen of any country in the world that violates US law (i.e. no longer a domestic agency) – or is suspected of doing so – , the VW execs are not safe in Germany either.

    • Colin Rafferty

      The FBI can only act domestically. It’s the CIA that would act internationally. If this were actually true.

  • Tsigantes

    Stratfor predicted 5 years ago that the US is quietly building up and substituting Poland as its European partner and demoting (bringing down) Germany. This looks like part of that. Let’s see how they handle a failure of Deutsche Bank.

  • autonomous

    Climate Change is fraud. Besides, it is ludicrous that a government that kills thousands of non-combatants in its undeclared wars including the war on drugs and on poverty and pollutes its own civilization with the importation of militant Muslims has the cajones to arrest someone on the trumped (obamaed) up charge of cheating on emission reporting on arguably the most fuel efficient vehicles in the world. One cannot compare electric vehicles that cannot effectively travel hundreds of miles between ten minute refuelings.

  • UppitySlave

    Bastiat is spinning in his grave…

  • Colin Rafferty

    You can make a libertarian argument that pollution controls are not needed. But that’s not the point. The point is, the laws already exist, and Volkswagen was intentionally breaking the law. That’s why they are being punished.

    I am a Marxist, so think property is theft, and therefore should be immune to larceny charges. Not.

  • WalkingHorse

    The accurate word is “persecution”.

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