New York Times mentions Oliver Schmidt is going to be brought before court today.
A day after the news broke, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down from his position, but denied any direct knowledge of the scheme.
Schmidt led Volkswagen's United States regulatory compliance office from 2014 to March 2015.
According to the New York Times, authorities arrested Schmidt in Miami after a visit to the US before he could return to Germany, where he'd been living.
The affidavit also said Mr Schmidt did not come clean when he learned in April 2014 of a study by the non-profit International Council of Clean Transportation that uncovered the discrepancy of vehicle emissions from tested levels. Neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor the Justice Department has commented about it, but legal actionsagainsts Volkswagen name Oliver Schmidt as an important figure in Volkswagen's emissions scandal, Dieselgate. "Rather than advocate for disclosure of the defeat device to USA regulators, VW executive management authorized its continued concealment".
His arrest comes after the NY attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against VW claiming the company fooled emission regulators for more than a decade.
Notably, though, this is the first time that a Volkswagen exec has been charged with criminal behavior in the United States in relation with the ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal.
Schmidt's lawyers did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
The German automaker said it was in advanced discussions with the US Justice Department and US Customs and Border Protection to settle the criminal investigation and pay fines but this was subject to approval by VW's board. More than a year later, Volkswagen admitted to installing the software on about 500,000 2-liter diesel engines in VW and Audi models in the U.S. The company later said some 3-liter diesels also cheated.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement Schmidt was "temporarily detained pending a detention hearing which will take place on Thursday in Miami". In September, James Robert Liang, a former engineer and German national, pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge as well.
The company said Tuesday that as a part of the criminal settlement it would accept an independent monitor responsible for overseeing its regulatory actions for three years.