Volkswagen’s former CEO has been officially charged in the dieselgate scandal.
Martin Winterkorn was CEO of Volkswagen Automotive Group between 2007 and 2015. He resigned shortly after the dieselgate scandal broke, whereby Volkswagen admitted to lying to the public about the pollution emitted by their diesel-engined cars. The fallout of that scandal is still ongoing years later, with the latest development reaching all the way to the top.
According to the New York Times, Winterkorn has been charged in federal court for his role in the dieselgate scandal. The indictment was filed in secret by prosecutors in Detroit and unveiled in US District Court on the same day as Volkswagen’s annual meeting.
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Charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, and violations of the Clean Air Act from May 2006 to November 2015. The indictment alleges that Volkswagen used illegal software to mask the fact that their diesel vehicles were producing excessive amounts of pollution.
Initially, Volkswagen executives attempted to lay blame at middle management by saying they were unaware of the issues surrounding their diesel cars. However, the indictment alleges that Winterkorn was informed of the issue in May 2014 and decided "to continue to perpetrate the fraud and deceive U.S. regulators” in July of 2015 along with other top executives at VW.
The US Attorney General’s office released a statement that read: "Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company."
In total nine people have been charged in US court. One, an Italian national and former Audi manager named Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio, is being held in Germany away extradition to the United States. Six others are still in Germany but are not being held as Germany does not typically extradite their citizens for trial in the US.
German prosecutors are expected to lay charges with former VW executives later this year.
Spokespersons with Volkswagen did not offer comment at this time.