Miami (AFP)

A former Volkswagen executive arrested on conspiracy charges in the "dieselgate" emissions-cheating scandal, will be arraigned Monday, a US Justice Department spokesman confirmed.

Oliver Schmidt, who led the German automaker's US regulatory compliance office from 2012 to March 2015, is scheduled to appear in a Miami court to face charges he knowingly lied to US regulators.

The FBI arrested Schmidt Saturday in connection with a scandal in which Volkswagen admitted to installing software on as many as 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide to circumvent tests for emissions.

The cheating technology allowed the cars to pass the emissions tests but release up to 40 times the permitted amounts of nitrogen oxides during actual driving.

The FBI's criminal complaint accused Schmidt of conspiracy to defraud the United States, for lying to US regulators who were investigating discrepancies in emissions test results from Volkswagen diesel cars, and for violating the Clean Air Act.

"He intended to, and did, deceive and mislead US regulators," the document said.

Schmidt, who was primarily responsible for communicating and coordinating with US regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), "hid the existence of the defeat device from the US regulators."

In March 2015, Schmidt was promoted and returned to VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, where he played a direct role in the company's response to questions from US regulators, the statement said.

Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen brand, said he could not comment on the case.

"Investigations are going on. We can't comment on that," Diess told reporters Monday at the Detroit auto show.

"We are not fully aware of who's investigating what, so we have to wait until the final results are released. We hope that it will be soon," he said.

Volkswagen has long pledged to cooperate with US authorities to resolve the dieselgate case. The company already has finalized agreements to repair or replace the models in the US with the defeat devices.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the company was close to agreeing to a $2.0 billion fine with the Justice Department to settle the criminal case.

Agence France-Presse

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