4/15/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Germany Charges Former VW CEO Winterkorn with Fraud

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Ex-Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and four unidentified senior executives have been accused in Germany with hiding the company’s diesel emission cheating.

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Ex-Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and four unidentified senior executives have been charged in Germany with hiding the company’s diesel emission cheating.

Winterkorn faces charges of fraud, breach of trust, breaching competition laws and failing to execute his duties as CEO, Reuters reports. A finding of guilt could expose him to as much as 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors in Lower Saxony say Winterkorn learned in May 2014 that VW was using illegal software to rig diesel emission tests. But they say he failed to alert regulatory authorities and didn’t take action to stop the cheating.

The prosecutors further assert that Winterkorn approved a software update in November 2014 whose purpose was to further conceal the cheating.

The charges in Germany follow criminal indictments in the U.S. against Winterkorn and five other senior VW executives for conspiracy and wire fraud. Those charges were leveled by a federal grand jury in 2016, which said Winterkorn had been alerted to the cheating in a memo he received in May 2014.

Because German citizens are shielded by the country’s constitution against extradition, Winterkorn isn’t likely to be prosecuted in the U.S.

VW’s use of so-called defeat devices was revealed by U.S. regulators in September 2015. VW later admitted it had rigged 11 million diesels sold worldwide to reduce nitrogen oxides emission when engines were being tested but not under real-world driving conditions.

The company so far has spent €29 billion ($32.7 billion) on fines, repairs, buybacks, owner compensation and environmental restitution.


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