Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn 'charged' in U.S. over dieselgate

Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn 'charged' in U.S. over dieselgate

The carmaker didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Winterkorn was CEO of Volkswagen when the automaker admitted it had cheated USA emissions tests and its cars illegally polluted up to 40 times more than allowed by federal law.

The U.S. Department of Justice says Winterkorn has been charged with four counts of violating federal law. About 11 million Volkswagen vehicles, including half a million in America, were secretly and deliberately equipped with "defeat devices" that allowed them to cheat diesel emissions tests.

In July 2015, when the United States threatened not to re-certify Volkswagen diesels because their emissions numbers were so off, Winterkorn asked his employees for a briefing on the situation. Instead, VW sought to deceive U.S. regulators about the causes for the significant discrepancies between emissions tests and emissions values measured on the road. Although Winterkorn is already under investigation in Germany over the Dieselgate scandal, it is unlikely that as a German citizen he will ever actually be extradited to the United States to face trial.

Prosecutors say Winterkorn knew of the company's emissions cheating as early as May 2014 but chose to continue with the fraud, the Justice Department said in a statement.

In total, nine people have been charged and two have pleaded guilty in the case.

Apple plans $100B share buyback program, raises dividends by 16 percent
An Apple employee walks between Apple buildings at Apple headquarters in Cupertino , Calif., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. Apple Pay continues its strong growth with active users more than doubling and transactions tripling year-over-year.

The charges, filed in March, were unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the same day as Volkswagen's annual meeting in Germany.

Winterkorn, now aged 70, has thus joined a select group of several other Volkswagen employees indicted in the now infamous Dieselgate scandal in the U.S. According to the papers, the CEO was at one point informed of the illegal practices of the company and chose to cover them up.

As alleged in the indictment, following publication of the ICCT study in the spring of 2014 the company knowingly continued to deny the existence of emissions cheating in its vehicles until late summer 2015. The result was that VW Group's so-called "clean diesel" vehicles were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) far in excess of the legal limit.

The September 2015 disclosure that VW had for at least six years intentionally cheated on emissions tests did massive damage to the company's reputation around the world and prompted massive compensation and vehicle refit costs. But, the indictment said, he continued to "perpetrate the fraud and deceive US regulators".

And following the meeting, Winterkorn authorized the company to continue lying to American authorities. Winterkorn resigned shortly after the scandal became public.

Related Articles