The ex-chief executive of carmaker Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn along with four other managers, has been charged in case of fraud in Germany about involvement in a diesel emissions scandal of the company. The public prosecutor in Braunschweig charged him with the fraud. Volkswagen cleared that it wouldn’t comment on this. In the US, Winterkorn is already facing criminal charges, but as Germany doesn’t extradite its citizens, he may not face the trial. In September 2015, 71-year-old Winterkorn resigned after the eruption of the scandal.
Prosecutors accused Winterkorn in a statement saying it is very serious fraud and a breach of competition laws. Prosecutors said that he should have alerted the car authorities and owners in the US and Europe regarding manipulating diesel emissions tests. He was also accused as he approved a “useless” software update which was designed to hide the actual reason for higher emission levels of the cars. He had admitted in September 2015 for the first time about using illegal software to cheat the emission tests in the US.
On about 600,000 vehicles that were sold in the US in the years 2009 to 2015, there were devices installed which let the vehicles perform much better during tests but not on roads later. It was done to millions of vehicles globally. These devices came to light after researchers at West Virginia University did a study on the emissions in the US. Later, investigations sparked for this scandal in Germany and other countries.
It wasn’t clear instantly if the four other accused managers were working at VW currently or had left the job. Winterkorn was given and had signed for the role of a “guarantor” of VW. It means he approved that the company didn’t sell cheating vehicles though he knew since May 2014 about the illegal manipulations. The prosecutors said that all this resulted in higher fines against VW AG Germany and the US as well. The shares of VW were a bit moved by all this. The bosses of VW are making massive promises about electrification of vehicles in the next decade, but the aftershocks from this scandal could seriously change the firm’s course.