Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn faces fresh charges in emissions scandal

Lloyd Doyle
April 18, 2019

German prosecutors have finally announced their intention to charge former Volkswagen Group chairman, Dr Martin Winterkorn, with fraud over the Dieselgate emissions-cheating scandal.

The scam had allegedly been going on since 2006, and German prosecutors say Winterkorn knew about it as early as 2014 but did nothing.

The installation of "defeat device" software in VW cars to fool emissions tests has turned into one of the biggest scandals in German corporate history. An estimated 11 million diesel vehicles around the world were found to contain the illegal software.

Prosecutors admitted "particularly serious" cases of fraud could lead to 10 years in prison.

Winterkorn's attorney, Felix Doerr, said that the defence could not comment because prosecutors had not provided adequate opportunity to review the case files.

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

He had already been charged with conspiracy by the United States Department of Justice, but Germany does not often extradite its citizens to America, so he was considered safe providing he stayed at home.

Even though he knew about the manipulations on diesel engines, Winterkorn had failed to disclose the manipulations either to authorities in Europe and the USA or to its customers, according to the public prosecutor.

Allegations that VW wrongfully withheld information about the emission software used in its diesel cars have loomed over the company since the scandal first broke in 2015.

It was not immediately clear whether the other four accused on Monday - whom prosecutors did not identify by name or position - still work at VW or have since left. Volkswagen has said it met its duty to investors.

The scandal unleashed widespread scrutiny of diesel emissions across the industry.

That in turn has undermined carmakers' plans to use diesels - which get better mileage - to help meet tougher European Union limits in 2021 on emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. Volkswagen plans to spend 30 billion euros ($45 million) to develop electric vehicles by 2023.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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