Ex-VW CEO Winterkorn Charged by USA in Diesel-Cheating Case

04 May, 2018, 10:45 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Volkswagen's former CEO charged in the US for diesel cheating scandal: report

Former Volkswagen Group chief executive Martin Winterkorn has been charged by the United States Department of Justice over the scandal that saw the German carmaker cheat emissions tests of some of its diesel-powered vehicles.

Winterkorn, who resigned in November 2015 in response to the scandal, said he was not aware of any wrongdoing at the time of his resignation.

The charges, filed in secret in March, were revealed on Thursday, with Winterkorn accused of conspiring to cover up the emissions cheating, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice says Winterkorn has been charged with four counts of violating federal law.

The company said it was cooperating with United States probes and declined to comment further.

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In total, VW has agreed to spend more than US$25 billion in the U.S. to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers.

Volkswagen has been fighting to move past the emissions scandal, vowing to spend billions on a number of new electric vehicles as it has seen US sales rebound.

Winterkorn is alleged to have conspired with other top Volkswagen bosses to defraud the US government and consumers with false claims that the company was complying with the Clean Air Act.

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.

It includes three counts of wire fraud related to that scheme.

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When the scandal broke in 2015, then-CEO Winterkorn denied having knowledge of the efforts by VW engineers to use a device and software to pass emissions inspections.

The indictment also alleges that VW employees recommended the company seek to get approval for 2016 diesel models from US regulators without revealing the existence of the cheating software.

Volkswagen had initially suggested that only lower-level executives knew of the diesel emissions cheating.

When the USA began looking into the discrepancies found between the declared and discovered emissions levels, Winterkorn made a decision to hide the "defeat device in responding to questions from United States regulators, while appearing to cooperate, " Ars Technica reports.

"As CEO I took political responsibility", the 69-year-old Winterkorn said during a German parliamentary inquiry in January 2017, adding that, "this step was the most hard of my life".

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