Published: Ven, Mai 04, 2018
Markets | By Rolando Keller

United States prosecutors charge former VW chief Winterkorn

United States prosecutors charge former VW chief Winterkorn

U.S. authorities have charged Volkswagen's former chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn with conspiracy and wire fraud in relation to the vehicle company's efforts to cheat on USA diesel emissions tests.

He becomes the highest-ranking executive to be charged over "dieselgate" - a scheme where VW used software to trick government emissions testers.

Two former VW engineers, Oliver Schmidt, 48, and James Liang, 63, both German citizens, pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy. All of this stems from a diesel emissions scandal that ultimately found VW paying $4.3 billion in penalties. If the vehicle was being tested in a lab, however, sensors would tell the auto to keep the emissions control system engaged. During said testing, the vehicles would curtail their emissions output, but once on the road, the vehicles would pollute well in excess of legal limits.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it outfitted about 11,000,000 diesel cars worldwide with a device to cheat software aimed at reducing emissions. Documents later surfaced tying several executives to statements imploring colleagues to "come up with the story please!" when regulators started asking questions. The prosecution alleges that Winterkorn may have known of the cheats as early as 2014.

This latest indictment changes that.

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The indictment alleges that Winterkorn conspired with company executives and employees to violate the Clean Air Act and defraud the U.S. and customers living there by falsely claiming that its "clean diesel" vehicles met United States emissions requirements.

The indictment alleges that Winterkorn specifically approved the efforts to mislead regulators about the falsified emissions claims.

He asked for explanations from his colleagues and received a memo which stated that "a thorough explanation for the dramatic increase in Nox emissions can not be given to the authorities". The memo predicted that the United States would open an investigation into the discrepancy.

Indictment comes in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

CHECK OUT: How did Volkswagen's diesel defeat device work?

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