A federal indictment from the U.S. federal courts has charged Martin Winterkorn, former chairman of the management board at Volkswagen with conspiracy and wire fraud. The charges are in connetion with the U.S. diesel vehicle emissions requirements cheating, also known as “dieselgate.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division are co-investigating.
The superseding indictment was issued by a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan and charges Winterkorn with four counts of federal law violations. The first count charges that Winterkorn conspired with other senior executives and employees of VW to defraud the United States, defraud U.S. customers, and violate the EPA’s Clean Air Act through false representations to regulators and the public. The remaining three counts charge Winterkorn with wire fraud in connection with that scheme.
The indictment alleges that Winterkorn was informed of the emissions cheating by the Volkswagen team at least twice. After having been informed of such, the indictment says, Winterkorn did nothing to change the cheating or alert authorities and conspired with other VW executives to continue the fraud.
Volkswagen itself has already plead guilty to criminal charges that it, as a corporation, deceived U.S. regulatory agencies by installing defeat devices in diesel vehicle emissions control systems. VW has paid a criminal penalty of $2.8 billion and has agreed to several impositions and a probationary period for EPA-mandated testing.
Winterkorn himself is the ninth individual from VW to have been charged by U.S. authorities for crimes related to Dieselgate. Two former VW engineers have plead guilty to charges and are currently serving prison sentences for their crimes. The other five were indicted in 2017 but have not yet been apprehended. Most are German citizens residing in Germany, though one is an Italian citizen who’s awaiting extradition.
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