VW former CEO Martin Winterkorn charged with fraud in diesel scandal

Mae Love
April 18, 2019

The public prosecutor in Braunschweig charged Martin Winterkorn, and four other managers, with fraud.

Prosecutors say Winterkorn committed fraud, broke competition laws and breach of trust by failing to tell authorities about the devices installed on diesel-fuel vehicles that were created to cheat emissions tests in the United States.

But in his role as "guarantor" to authorities and customers that the group was not selling cheating vehicles, Winterkorn "failed to reveal" the fraud immediately after he learned of it as early as May 2014, or to prevent the sale of infringing vehicles, prosecutors said.

Whilst the other executives have not been named by the prosecutor's office, they are believed to include former Volkswagen Group director of powertrain Heinz-Jakob Neusser, former head of diesel development Falko Rudolph and ex-diesel developer Rudolph Krebs. Last year, he was indicted by USA authorities for wire fraud, conspiracy, and violating the Clean Air Act.

Volkswagen in the biggest auto-manufacturing group in the world and has already paid €29 billion in fines and buy-back schemes in the United States.

VW first confessed in September 2015 that it had utilized illegal software to cheat USA emissions tests.

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Prosecutors did not state the other four senior managers who have been charged as well.

Volkswagen noted that the indictment was against individuals and had no further comment. Last year, under CEO Herbert Diess, Volkswagen had record sales of 10.83 million vehicles, making an operating profit of 13.9 billion euros.

Winterkorn is now facing criminal charges in the USA, but is not likely to face trial, as Germany does not extradite its citizens.

Winterkorn's lawyer Felix Doerr complained prosecutors had not given the defence time to examine all the documents related to the case before bringing charges.

VW has already admitted that Winterkorn, aged 71, received a memo detailing the cheating in May 2014, but said he may not have read it.

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate 36 more defendants and have yet to decide whether to charge them.

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