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A senior Volkswagen manager has been jailed for seven years in the US for covering up a scheme to evade pollution limits on diesel vehicles.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, became the second person to be sent to prison over the scandal involving the car maker. He was also fined $400,000 (£300,000).

US district judge Sean Cox described it as an astonishing fraud on American consumers.

VW first admitted in 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US emissions tests. The scandal has so far cost the company as much as $30bn (£22.4bn).

Schmidt admitted charges of conspiring to mislead US regulators and violate clean air laws.

The German national was in charge of the company’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan until February 2015, where he oversaw emissions issues.

He then returned to Germany where he was told of the existence of the software.

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According to the terms of his guilty plea, he conspired later that year with other executives to avoid disclosing “intentional cheating” in a bid to seek regulatory approval for diesel models.

The judge told Schmidt: “It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States

“You saw this as your opportunity to shine… and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”

Schmidt read a written statement in court acknowledging his guilt, saying: “I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry.”

Engineer James Liang co-operated with the FBI and was sentenced to 40 months in prison last summer.

Six others at VW or Audi were charged, but they are in Germany and out of reach of US authorities.

VW pleaded guilty as a corporation in March and agreed to pay $4.3bn in civil and criminal penalties on top of billions more to buy back cars.

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