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.

Sentencing Oliver Schmidt in Detroit, District Judge Sean Cox called it an astonishing fraud on American consumers.

Schmidt, the second person to be sent to prison over the scandal, was dispatched to the US from Germany in 2015 to meet suspicious California regulators.

But he did not disclose rogue software that had long fooled authorities into believing that VW was meeting emissions rules on nearly 600,000 vehicles.

He also misled American investigators and destroyed documents.

“I’m sure, based upon common sense, that you viewed this cover-up as an opportunity to shine – to climb the corporate ladder at VW,” Judge Cox said. “Your goal was to impress senior management.”

The judge called Schmidt, who had led VW’s engineering and environmental office in Michigan for three years, a “key conspirator” in the deception.

“Without trust in corporate America,” Judge Cox said, “the economy can’t function.”

The diesel vehicles were programmed to trigger certain pollution results only during testing, not during regular road use.

The plan was hatched in 2006, and the vehicles were marketed as “clean diesel”. Justice Department prosecutor Ben Singer called it the “height of irony”.

Schmidt, 48, was arrested in Miami in January while trying to return to Germany after a holiday.

“For the disruption of my life, I only have to blame myself,” Schmidt told the judge.

Engineer James Liang cooperated with the FBI and was sentenced to 40 months last summer.