Former Volkswagen boss Winterkorn charged over dieselgate role

Javier Stokes
May 4, 2018

Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen AG, has been indicted on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud by the US Department of Justice.

Winterkorn, who resigned in November 2015 in response to the scandal, said he was not aware of any wrongdoing at the time of his resignation.

According to the report, the charges were filed secretly in March and made public Thursday.

"The US Attorney's Office is committed to pursuing accountability for corporate crimes, and the Winterkorn prosecution is a reflection of that commitment".

"Volkswagen deceived American regulators and defrauded American consumers for years", said Matthew Schneider, US Attorney for the State of MI, in a statement. The company already pleaded guilty to various related charges in U.S. federal court, and it has paid out billions of dollars in fines and buybacks to former customers.

Volkswagen has been fighting to move past the emissions scandal, vowing to spend billions on a number of new electric vehicles as it has seen US sales rebound.

Martin Winterkorn is accused by lawyers in Detroit of conspiring to mislead regulators about the German auto maker's efforts to cheat the emissions tests.

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The meeting provided a "clear picture" of how the company was deceiving United States regulators about software used to rig emissions tests of Volkswagen diesel vehicles, it said.

The remaining three counts charge Winterkorn with wire fraud in connection with the scheme.

The indictment alleges that Winterkorn knew of the emissions cheating as far back as May 2014, and that he was informed again of it in July 2015.

Volkswagen settled criminal charges with the US Justice Department in 2017 and agreed to a US$4.3 billion payment.

The fraud, uncovered in September 2015, involved VW engineers designing auto models in such a way that they would fool the official emissions tests. Finally, one former manager of VW's subsidiary Audi AG, Giovanni Pamio, an Italian citizen, has been charged by complaint and now remains in Germany pending extradition.

Winterkorn had served as VW's CEO and management board chairman from January 2007 until September 2015. But, the indictment said, he continued to "perpetrate the fraud and deceive US regulators".

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