A court in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday sentenced former Volkswagen engineer James Liang to 40 months in prison for his role in the company’s multi-year scheme to sell diesel cars that caused more pollution than legally allowed in the United States, Reuters reported. US District Court Judge Sean Cox also told Liang to pay a fine of $2,00,000 (Rs 1.27 crore), 10 times the amount sought by the prosecution.

“This is a very serious and troubling crime against our economic system,” Cox said, adding that the prison term and extraordinary fine would deter other automobile engineers and executives from issuing similar schemes to deceive the customer. Liang had pleaded guilty to misleading regulatory authorities about diesel emissions from Volkswagen Group cars.

The prosecution had recommended a three-year prison sentence for Liang, who cooperated with US law enforcement officials investigating the automobile firm. Volkswagen refused to comment on Liang’s sentence. “Volkswagen continues to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals,” a company statement said. “It would not be appropriate to discuss personnel matters.”