The former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and four others were charged with fraud and other offences in connection with the company’s massive, multi-year effort to cheat on diesel emissions testing. The German prosecutors accused Winterkorn of deceptive practice since at least May 2014, and failed to put a stop to it, which they said contradicted Winterkorn’s testimony in the German parliament that he didn’t learn of the problem until shortly before US investigators announced it in September 2015. Winterkorn resigned the CEO post days later.
They said the defendants – all of them top Volkswagen managers – were part of an ongoing deception that started in 2006. The company has admitted installing software that could tell when the cars were on test stands for emissions certification. When the cars went on to everyday driving, the emission controls were turned off, improving performance but emitting far more than the US legal limit of nitrogen oxides, a class of pollutant that is harmful to health.
They accused the defendants of carrying out a software update costing 23 million euros ($NZ38.5m) in 2014 to use and cover up the elevated pollution emissions during regular driving and that Martin Winterkorn was aware of the deceptive emissions practice since at least May 2014.
Winterkorn and the others face from six months to 10 years imprisonment if convicted on charges of aggravated fraud involving serious losses. Other charges include unfair competition breach of trust.
Bonuses collected due to sales based on the deception could be forfeited. Prosecutors said the amount of bonuses that could be forfeited range from around 300,000 euros to 11 million euros ($NZ500,000 – $NZ18.4m).
Source: Independet Newspapers