Ex-Volkswagen CEO officially charged over Dieselgate
Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of Volkswagen, along with four other senior VW Group executives, will be charged by the Braunschweig prosecutor’s office for fraud, embezzlement and for violating competition law.
The other executives have not been named but are believed to include former powertrain director, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, former head of diesel development, Falko Rudolph, and ex-diesel developer, Rudolph Krebs. All have been fired by Volkswagen.
Winterkorn faces up to ten years in prison as well as being forced to repay tens of millions of euros originally given as sales bonuses.
He was previously charged with conspiracy by the United States Department of Justice but, as Germany does not typically extradite its citizens to America, he was considered safe as long as he stayed in Germany. The US Securities and Exchange Commission also sued Winterkorn for failing to disclose the fraud soon enough.
German prosecutors say that Winterkorn was made aware of the Dieselgate on 25 May 2014, almost sixteen months before it became public knowledge. However, some reports say that all five individuals were tied to key moments in Dieselgate’s conception. The plot was first conceived as far back as 2006, evading several domestic probes and finally culminating in the United States’ environmental authorities 2015 inquiry.
So far, the scandal has cost the Volkswagen Group around €29 billion in fines and penalties with more likely on the way.