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FBI Arrests Volkswagen Executive On Charges Related To Dieselgate (cnet.com) 106

According to CNET, the FBI has arrested Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt over the weekend on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. relating to the ongoing Dieselgate emissions scandal. From the report: Schmidt headed VW's regulatory compliance office in the U.S. from 2014 to March 2015. The FBI's official Criminal Complaint states that during that time VW employees -- Schmidt included -- knowingly installed secret "defeat device" software in 475,000 diesel cars in the U.S., hiding during emissions testing the fact that those cars emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels when on the road. The complaint asserts that by knowingly installing this secret cheat software, Schmidt and VW conspired to defraud the U.S. by impairing and impeding the Environmental Protection Agency and violating the Clean Air Act, leading to the arrest on Saturday. Schmidt is due to appear before a Federal Court in Miami on Monday.
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FBI Arrests Volkswagen Executive On Charges Related To Dieselgate

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  • Toothless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Nothing will come of this. Corporate executives almost always get a slap on the wrist and a scolding, and that's it. Particularly under the next administration, if anybody believes that we will be holding corporations accountable for stuff like this, I have some beach front swampland you may be interested in.
    • If executives are held accountable, the terriz have already won.

    • You really believe your own BS don't you?
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Smart executives don't leave a written trail. They call in a couple blokes just below their rank and tell them in person what they "must do" do to either get a raise, and/or to not get fired. The boss has "that stare".

      In court it's then word against word, which is rarely enough to convict by itself.

      I've been asked to do slimy stuff multiple times in the work world, unfortunately, and the boss(es) never use email. It seems to happen more often during slumps when people have fewer employment options.

  • for their dumb job that could land them in jail. Talk about screwed up priorities.

    • Guaranteed loss of job vs small chance of landing in jail.
  • Why is this worthy of Slashdot? This is just an executive being busted by the FBI. I can think of far more worthy subjects, say, for example, do a comparison between Raspberry PI 3 and the latest Intel Edison, and the latest Beaglebone.
    • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:24PM (#53637253) Journal

      Why is this worthy of Slashdot? This is just an executive being busted by the FBI.

      Because the exec was responsible for validating code that was found to not be doing what he said it did.

      Do you have anybody in your company doing QA? Or auditing code? Think they might be interested in this?

      • by 4wdloop ( 1031398 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:09PM (#53637885)

        I do not see anybody 'down in the trenches' just out of the blue or love for the job decided to do it single-handed. I would be surprised any of the softies there realized this is very illegal. Ethically perhaps they may have doubts quickly resolved by their bosses.

        I'd expect that in big corporation, like VW, the programmers are just gears in the machine. I am one for sure. They were told to improve test results and performance results. Sbdy (likely team+1/2 levels of mgnt) there decided to optimize these two cases separately hence detecting each use case. They even consulted this with VW legal team and upper mngmnt, got approval and went ahead. Than they all collected the bonuses.

        If there is not written evidence for all of these then their document retention policies are "well tuned" albeit since they must be ISO9xxx certified they must have something left in the decision chain. Hence Schmidt was charged with conspiring to fraud, evidence must exist he knowingly allowed it as he's not charged with negligence of duties of sorts (AINAL).

        • If there is not written evidence for all of these then their document retention policies are "well tuned" albeit since they must be ISO9xxx certified they must have something left in the decision chain.

          ISO9xxx isn't about documenting a decision chain.

          ISO9xxx is about insuring that the company can build the same thing repeatedly, despite things like personnel with critical knowledge leaving the company or dying, and being replaced by ignorant newbies.

          ISO9xxx is perfectly happy if the instructions for a step

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Take a look at page 64 of this presentation (PDF): http://roma.faster-it.de/temp/... [faster-it.de]

          Some guys decompiled the firmware and found the tables that control the engine modes, based on time and distance travelled. Note how the very narrow low emissions bands match the European test cycles perfectly.

          It was clearly very deliberately, very carefully planned, must have required extensive testing and couldn't have been done without the assistance of Bosch who designed the control unit.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:28PM (#53637273)
      Speak for yourself. I find this, as a former developer, to be very interesting. People aren't generally arrested over bad programming. I couldn't care less about yet another review of whatever the latest el-cheapo hobbyist gadgets are.
      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:42PM (#53637371) Journal

        I agree. Since this boils down to someone writing software whose explicit purpose is to cheat on government-mandated tests, I'd say it's a very interesting technical story that involves a scenario that may play out in many areas of development. Being a programmer doesn't mean moral, ethical and legal considerations cease to exist.

      • I find this, as a former developer, to be very interesting. People aren't generally arrested over bad programming.

        Was it bad programming or was it programming that performed exactly according to specifications?

        • Performance wise it was very good software, it "knew" when it was in a test environment and behaved in a manner totally at odds with normal day to day operation. Sadly for them, researchers began a study on emissions discrepancies between European and US models of vehicles, Portable Emissions Measurement Systems showed totally different values from test rig results and the rest is yet to be played out.

          They would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids at the International Council on
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:13PM (#53637173) Homepage Journal

    What you gonna do if Bill Gates is ever involved in a scandal? Call it Gatesgate?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      BillGate

    • who's this "we", Gordon?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      What you gonna do if Bill Gates is ever involved in a scandal? Call it Gatesgate?

      No kidding. Why do large scandals get "gate" attached to them anyhow? I understand the Watergate thing as it was the actual name of the complex it happened in. But the hundreds of scandals since, that have used it, just seem silly. "Deflategate", "Donutgate[sic]", "Nannygate(1, 2 &3)", "Antennagate", "Pengate", "Nipplegate", and my current favorite, "Pussygate". "Pussygate" sounds more like a chastity belt than a scandal.

      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:46PM (#53637397) Journal

        The simple answer is simply that enough English-speaking individuals over the last 43-44 years have decided that "-gate" as a suffix at the end of a word can be used to give a scandal as a memorable name. You do understand, I hope, that human language is not a static construct, that words and even morphemes and other elements of speech evolve over time, old words taking on new meanings, new words being formed either by adoption from other languages or by joining together two existing words, and so forth. So, "-gate" as a suffix has now come to a scandal, and has for over four decades gained sufficient penetration in most English-speaking jurisdictions that I'd say it's now a permanent part of the language.

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          human language is not a static construct, that words and even morphemes and other elements of speech evolve over time, old words taking on new meanings

          Yip, 300 years from now people will say, "I think that planet just trumped their government all up."

      • don't forget Pizzagate [washingtonpost.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      If Bill G. breaks through a fence gate using gate-array circuity, then the scandal is called "GatesGateGateGate". Or, G4.

    • There were plenty of scandals Bill Gates was involved in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • by Macdude ( 23507 )

      Can we stop adding GATE to every scandal?

      Apparently not.

    • Can we stop adding GATE to every scandal?

      Can we? Yes! WIll we? Well, the origin of it is from 40 years ago so... unlikely.

      What you gonna do if Bill Gates is ever involved in a scandal? Call it Gatesgate?

      It's funny you mention that because Mr. Gates has been involved in about a dozen human trafficking scandals but they fail to report it because can never figure out a working headline.

    • Or if there was a gate scandal, which itself became a scandal. Gategategate.
    • There's already been a Gategate [wikipedia.org], although as the redirect shows I think it was more commonly known as "Plebgate".

      It may be etymologically dumb, but it's a handy bit of syntax. Sort of like "-aholic" for being addicted to something other than alcohol.
    • What if Bill Gates got into a scandal regarding Watergate?

      Bill Gates Watergategate?
  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:21PM (#53637231) Journal

    Here's hoping this leads to some actual changes.

  • In all fairness.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @05:54PM (#53637435)
    I expect they will be arresting Elizabeth Holmes as well? Or is this an American philosophy arrest, where defrauding the health of people isn't nearly as offensive as financially damaging defrauding.
    • The investigation into Holmes and Theranos is still ongiong. I suppose it's not yet clear whether she and the company were malicious or just sloppy.

      She has been hit with a two-year ban on owning or operating a lab. [wikipedia.org]

      However, in the case of Volkswagen, there's no question that they wrote software designed to bypass emission tests.

  • The FBI has arrested Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt . . . is he the highest ranking executive who demonstrably knew what was going on? Anything less amounts to convicting a torpedo for doing a contract hit, or convicting the capo that made the arrangements, but never going after the boss who's actually getting people killed.

    And - no - this is not hyperbolic. That's my air those VW's are polluting. I've often been asked if I would just stop breathing and my answer has always been "no, thank you". I

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      It's a shame I can't get the same high-quality air I used to get last century.

      If you could have their air, but also had to live with their technology and medicine too would you still take the trade?

      Meanwhile, depending on where you live, 100 years ago was pretty filthy... London air quality in 1917.... sulpher dioxide and soot from the smokestacks... and that was on a good day... 100 years ago puts you right in the middle of World War I ... a little soot in your air would be right pleasant compared to the 50,000 tons of chlorine, phosgene, mustard, and other gases that some of your

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And - no - this is not hyperbolic. That's my air those VW's are polluting.

      The affected VWs produce no more NOx than contemporary diesel cars and their particulate emissions are exceptionally low. This is a regulatory compliance issue, not an air quality issue.

      It's a shame I can't get the same high-quality air I used to get last century.

      At no point in the previous century was the air in the populated parts of the West as clean as it is now.

  • How did we miss this Florida Man opportunity!?

  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:02PM (#53637839) Homepage
    About fucking time. How the bank robbers at Wells Fargo?
  • Can't they just summon him? Arrest make sense for dangerous people, and this one is not going to harm anyone over the weekend.
  • Just one guy? Obvioulsy a token sacrificial goat, probably set up by VW themselves. You can't tell me the whole of the VW upper management didn't know about and agree to this.

  • Plenty of ACs have posted here that the U.S. is only going after non-American firms. Well, here's your red meat...

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business... [go.com]

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