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1 September 2017

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A Volkswagen engineer has been jailed for 40 months and ordered to pay a $200,000 fine for his role in emissions test cheating.

James Liang, 63, received the sentence at a Detroit federal court. He had admitted conspiring to defraud the US, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act for his role in helping Volkswagen evade emissions requirements with diesel-powered vehicles.

Liang, a German national, will be removed from the US once he has served his sentence. His punishment surprised many observers. Prosecutors had asked for three years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.

Liang is one of eight individuals charged in a US Justice Department probe of Volkswagen's attempts to equip nearly 600,000 diesel-engine vehicles with illegal software that allowed them to cheat emissions tests while polluting beyond legal limits.

Volkswagen has already pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US relating to the deception. It has agreed to pay billions of dollars in penalties. Other manufacturers are now also coming under investigation.

While emissions test fraud appears a relatively new concept, the problems it has caused VW are as damaging as any that the more conventional forms of fraud pose. Failure to prevent any form of fraud in the workplace will mean major problems – to a company’s finances, reputation and prospects of remaining in business.

This is why procedures must be put in place to identify and tackle the potential for fraud – in whatever form it takes.


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