Former VW CEO indicted in Detroit in emissions cheating case
04 May, 2018, 10:01 | Author: Regina Lloyd
USA prosecutors have reportedly filed charges against former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn over his alleged role in the diesel emissions scandal.
The first count charges that Winterkorn conspired with other senior VW executives and employees to defraud the United States, defraud VW's USA customers and violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW's "clean diesel" vehicles to comply with US emissions requirements.
Diesel cars from Volkswage (VLKAF)and Audi, which is owned by VW, were rigged to cheat on clean air rules with software that made emissions look cleaner than they actually were, according to federal and California regulators.
According to the indictment, Winterkorn was told of the problem and questioned how USA regulators were threatening to delay certifying 2016 cars for sale, at a July meeting in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the company is based, according to Bloomberg News. Winterkorn resigned shortly after the scandal became public.
The company pleaded guilty in March 2017 to criminal charges of deceiving USA and California regulatory agencies by installing the software to cheat emissions tests.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price". "These are serious allegations, and we will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law". "They were allegedly shown a PowerPoint presentation which explained "(1) how VW was deceiving US regulators, including precisely what information had been disclosed and what had not yet been disclosed; and (2) the potential consequences of VW being caught cheating".
Winterkorn stepped down from his role at Volkswagen in September of 2015, only a matter of days after the German auto maker confessed to outfitting 11 million cars with a device created to cheat at emissions testing.
The charges stem from the VW Group diesel emissions scandal that broke in 2015.
The indictment charges that Winterkorn was informed of the cheating scheme in July 2015 and approved a strategy aimed at keeping United States regulators in the dark.
If extradited from Germany and found guilty, Winterkorn faces a maximum of 65 years in prison if convicted on all charges - 5 years for the conspiracy charge and 20 years per wire fraud charge.
The indictment reopens the question of whether other senior VW executives knew about the scandal, which threatens to prolong the crisis.
A Volkswagen spokesman in Germany said the company "continues to cooperate with investigations" of individuals but would not comment on Thursday's charges.
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