The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly arrested Oliver Schmidt, head of Volkswagen's regulatory compliance office in the US from 2014 to March 2015. The arrest is apparently on the charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, the New York Times has reported, citing "two unnamed sources with knowledge of the arrest" on Monday.
In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it installed a secret software to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing after a large-scale emissions-cheating scandal hit the German carmaker. In reality, the cars emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.
The automaker admitted it installed "defeat devices" in about half a million 2.0-liter diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests.
Lawsuits filed against Volkswagen by the states of New York and Massachusetts accused Schmidt of playing a key role in the auto major's efforts to conceal its emissions-cheating devices from US regulators.
Last week, there were reports that Volkswagen was nearing a deal to resolve criminal and civil allegations over its diesel cheating scandal, which has cost the automaker billions of dollars and its reputation.
The NYT report stated that lawyers representing Schmidt did not respond to requests for comment late on Sunday and officials at the Justice Department also declined to comment, as did an FBI spokesman in Detroit. Senior officials of Volkswagen are reportedly not attending this year's Detroit auto show, which is scheduled to take place this week.
Meanwhile, British law firm Harcus Sinclair UK said on Monday that it was initiating legal action against Volkswagen, seeking compensation for British drivers affected by the diesel emissions scandal, Reuters reported.