An engineer from the automaker Volkswagen has spilled the beans. James Robert Liang (62) has pleaded guilty to the very first criminal charges in the '#Dieselgate' scandal. Liang reportedly agreed to a plea deal for charges handed down by U.S. prosecutors. The prosecutors said Liang admitted to being a part of a "nearly decade-long conspiracy to defraud US regulators and VW customers." He also pleaded guilty to the violation of the Clean Air Act.
Where did it all start?
According to the Telegraph, Liang, an American himself, worked at VW's Wolfsburg branch from 1983 to May 2008. Then he moved back to America to a U.S. branch to work on "environmentally-friendly clean" diesel vehicles in 2006. Liang admitted that it all started in 2006 when the team of engineers was unable to get their diesel engines to emissions standards. As a result, they decided to develop "engine management software" that would underreport the vehicles' emissions.
"I knew that Volkswagen did not disclose the defeat device to U.S. regulators," Liang said. He is allegedly assisting the government in their investigation and will be instrumental in the prosecution of other engineers involved with the emissions scandal.
The investigations by the U.S. Justice Department uncovered that the Jetta and the Golf models between 2009 and 2015 were the cars that sprung the 2006 plan to underreport emissions, into action.
Earlier in June, it was confirmed that Volkswagen AG was looking at a hefty penalty for its emissions untruths to the tune of $14.7 billion. Liang's confession also happened in June but was only mentioned in media publications this month.
When the emissions-control module was discovered, Yotam Lurie, a business lecturer of business ethics at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, spoke to Spectrum, saying: "This is shocking. It's shocking that the software engineerings of Volkswagen overlooked and neglected their fiduciary responsibility as professionals. Professionals who have a semi-regulatory responsibility within the organization to ensure safety, in this case, environmental safety, even when this is less efficient or economical." (via Spectrum)
The Dean of the Engineering Institute of Technology Steve Mackay, says it best when talking about engineers and the ethics they should consider. Earlier this year in a series of engineering news updates, the Dean said: "Ethics for engineers, means engineers in the fulfillment of their professional duties shall uphold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of their fellow citizens. That should be the highest possible consideration. It's a very expensive process if you want to rip the system but ethics is something we as engineers and technical professionals have to do all the time."