Former VW manager Oliver Schmidt released from prison early in diesel scandal case

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Former Volkswagen Group executive Oliver Schmidt, whose 2017 arrest at the Miami airport made global headlines, was released from prison after serving about half his sentence on charges related to the diesel-emissions scandal.

A ruling, issued by a court in the German city of Lueneburg, allowed Schmidt to be released on parole, his lawyer Alexander Saettele said Wednesday. Schmidt, 52, had been sentenced to seven years by a U.S. court, but had been allowed to return to his home country in November to serve the remainder of his term.

The diesel scandal, exposed by U.S. regulators in September 2015, still haunts VW. The rigging of engines to make it appear that they could pass U.S. emissions tests has cost the world’s largest automaker at least 32 billion euros ($38.7 billion). Lawsuits from disgruntled investors and customers are set to drag on for years.

Schmidt was VW’s liaison with U.S. regulators when he was arrested at the Miami airport in January 2017 on his way back home from a vacation. His apprehension sent shock waves through corporate Germany.

In Germany, inmates can be released after serving two thirds of their term. Parole after only half of the time is rare, but can be granted to first time offenders who demonstrated good behavior and are deemed unlikely to commit crimes in the future.

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