Volkswagen ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn charged in the U.S. over Dieselgate scandal
04 May, 2018, 13:56 | Author: Lora Ball
Winterkorn was indicted by a federal grand jury in MI as part of a probe into the scandal, which has plagued the company for almost three years.
According to the indictment, Winterkorn was briefed in 2015 about the situation, at which time he allegedly gave the green light to continued concealment of the vehicles' defeat devices, which were used to bypass federal emissions regulations.
In March 2017, VW pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it deceived US regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board by installing so-called defeat devices, which were created to cheat emissions tests, in the diesel vehicles' emissions control systems.
It includes three counts of wire fraud related to that scheme.
Winterkorn, who served as VW's management board chairman and was VW's highest ranking executive from January 2007 until Sep.
The unsealed indictment from a United States district court in MI - the state where VW's local engineering and environmental office was located - contained some damning accusations. It would then lower the car's emissions to meet the clean air standards.
Winterkorn resigned soon after the scandal came to light in September 2015.
In a statement, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that "these are serious allegations" and that "the full force of the law" applies to this case.
A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in Detroit confirmed Mr Winterkorn was not in custody.
In making the announcement, U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider said: "The fact that this criminal conduct was allegedly blessed at Volkwagen's highest levels is appalling". Volkswagen has also been forced to buy back over 5 lakh running vehicles from owners, which have now been stored in lots around the country.
Updated with comments from Volkswagen.
VW pleaded guilty as a corporation in March, agreeing to pay a record $4.3bn in fines. Two people have pleaded guilty in the case.
Winterkorn may never actually face the music in the USA because Germany typically does not extradite its citizens for trials outside of the European Union. One Italian citizen, a former Audi manager, is in Germany awaiting extradition.
The ex-VW boss is the highest ranking executive to have been charged over the scandal, although the indictment that was unsealed late yesterday also charged five other VW execs.
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