12/06/2017 17:50 EST

Volkswagen Executive Gets Max Sentence Of 7 Years For Role In Emissions Scandal

“This crime ... attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system,” the judge said.

A former Volkswagen AG executive received the maximum sentence on Wednesday of seven years in prison and a $400,000 fine for his role in the company’s emissions scandal.

Oliver Schmidt ― a German native who worked in the U.S. as Volkswagen’s top emissions compliance manager ― had pleaded guilty in August to two charges in the case of Volkswagen altering its diesel cars to evade U.S. emission standards, reported The Detroit News.  

One charge was conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and the other was violating the Clean Air Act.

“This crime ... attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system: That is trust,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit said in court, according to the outlet. 

In September 2015, the German automaker admitted it had rigged close to 11 million cars worldwide ― including 500,000 cars in the U.S. ― with secret software that would cheat on emissions tests to appear more environmentally friendly.

The scandal has cost the company close to $30 billion.

Handout . / Reuters
Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 for his role in the company's emissions scandal.

Other executives from Volkswagen, as well as the company itself, are still under investigation in Germany and facing lawsuits from investors in the U.S.

Earlier this year, former Volkswagen engineer James Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in the scandal. Liang has since appealed his sentence.  

At the time, the same judge, Cox, ordered Liang to pay a $200,000 fine ― 10 times the amount sought by federal prosecutors, reported Reuters. The judge said Liang had participated in a “stunning fraud on the American consumer ... a very serious and troubling crime against our economic system.”

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