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A German national drew the maximum penalty under a plea bargain that had the US -based Volkswagen executive sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in a diesel-emissions scandal, according to multiple reports.

In August, Oliver Schmidt pled guilty to federal charges of conspiring to defraud the USA and violating the Clean Air Act in connection with Volkswagen's "clean diesel" emissions cheating scandal.

Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August.

"I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry", he said.

A Volkswagen senior manager has been sentenced to seven years in prison for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles.

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Schmidt said he had only himself to blame and that his loyalty to Volkswagen allowed him to be "misused" by the company.

Volkswagen engineer James Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined $200,000 in August for his role in the scandal.

Schmidt will be deported after he serves his sentence. First revealed in September 2015, the firm illegally manipulated software on its cars to artificially lower nitrous oxide emissions under test conditions.

VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 United States vehicles. As VW Group rolled out its massive "clean diesel" marketing campaign appealing to environmentally conscious vehicle buyers, those same cars were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) many times in excess of the legal limit.

"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States", U.S. District Judge Sean Cox told Schmidt, according to a Reuters account of the proceeding.