June 25, 2019
Latest News

Volkswagen ex-CEO faces fresh fraud charges over emissions scandal

 Former CEO of German car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW), Martin Winterkorn attends the VW works meeting in Wolfsburg, Germany, Feb. 27, 2013 EPA/SEBASTIAN KAHNERT

Former CEO of German car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW), Martin Winterkorn attends the VW works meeting in Wolfsburg, Germany, Feb. 27, 2013 EPA/SEBASTIAN KAHNERT

Berlin, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- German prosecutors on Monday indicted Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkswagen AG, and four other people on charges of serious fraud and a list of other violations in relation to the company's diesel cheating scandal, according to a report from the Dow Jones Newswires made available to Efe.

The charges also include engaging in unfair competition, embezzlement, tax evasion and giving false witness. They carry substantial fines, the return of nearly 11 million euros ($12 million) in salary and bonuses and up to 10 years in prison, which makes the indictment among the most severe ever lodged against a corporate executive in Germany.

The indictment against Winterkorn alleges that he failed to act when he learned of the car maker's attempt to deceive regulators, consumers, and investors by selling millions of vehicles rigged to cheat on diesel-emissions tests. The charge could bolster a lawsuit against Volkswagen AG and Winterkorn filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission last month, claiming the company and its former CEO committed massive fraud against investors.

It could also give fresh ammunition to a class-action lawsuit in Germany where VW investors are seeking up to 9 billion euros in damages after VW shares lost nearly half their value when US authorities in 2015 charged it with violating US environmental law.

Felix Dörr, a prominent German attorney representing Winterkorn, declined to comment in detail, saying in a statement that Winterkorn hasn't had an opportunity to see the full indictment or all of the evidence, the Dow Jones report added.

Citing German privacy laws, the prosecutor didn't name the other defendants. The investigation focuses on individuals and their alleged involvement in crimes and doesn't involve Volkswagen as a corporation.

A Volkswagen spokesman said the company wouldn't comment on investigations against individuals. The criminal probe against Volkswagen ended last year when it agreed to settle the charges and pay a EUR1 billion fine.

The indictment comes nearly three years after prosecutors in Braunschweig, the jurisdiction where Volkswagen's headquarters are located, launched an investigation that is still ongoing and encompasses three dozen suspects. In the first interim conclusion of the investigation, the prosecutor said the charges against Winterkorn were particularly serious because he became aware of the cheating early on and did nothing to inform regulators and consumers.

"As a result, Volkswagen AG suffered substantially higher financial penalties in Germany as well as in the U.S.," the prosecutor said in a statement.

Volkswagen pleaded guilty to the US charges in 2016 and two former VW employees pleaded guilty to charges in the US and are serving time in prison.

The German indictment covers allegedly illegal activities from Nov. 15, 2006 to Sept. 22, 2015. This is the time period from the decision to install illegal software on diesel engines until Volkswagen admitted in a regulatory statement to putting the software on nearly 11 million vehicles worldwide and acknowledged the US investigation for the first time.

Volkswagen had been under pressure to boost sales in the US and become the world's biggest auto maker by sales. However, a group of the company's executives and engineers discovered that their powerful diesel engines failed to meet strict US emissions standards. The engineers devised a software workaround that allowed the vehicles to pass routine treadmill tests but relax emission controls during normal road usage.

In 2015, embroiled in scandal, Volkswagen sold more than 10 million vehicles worldwide, finally achieving its goal of becoming the biggest car maker in the world.

Winterkorn became CEO of Volkswagen in January 2007, moving from his role as CEO of VW's Audi luxury car unit. The Braunschweig indictment doesn't allege that he knew about the diesel cheating at this time, but that he learned about it on May 25, 2014.

Despite this knowledge, the prosecutors said in their statement, Winterkorn approved a 23 million euro diesel software update in November 2014 "that was useless and only served to continue to conceal the real reason for elevated emissions during normal use of the vehicle," the prosecutor said.

By William Boston

dj/jt

News history
Nissan shareholders approve corporate governance reform

Tokyo, Jun 25 (efe-epa).- The shareholders of Nissan Motor on Tuesday approved the reform of its management to prevent a concentration of power such as that...

Future of LatAm development depends on sustainability

By Alfonso Fernandez

Iran: A nation under pressure

Iran is in the midst of an economic crisis as a result of continued economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

Death toll rises to 28 in Cambodia building collapse

Bangkok Desk, Jun. 24 (efe-epa).- The death toll from the weekend collapse of a seven-story building in Cambodia’s seaside resort city of Sihanoukville has...

China urges mutual respect, working under WTO rules to reach an agreement

Beijing, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- The president of China is set to urge his United States counterpart for mutual respect and working under the rules of the World...

IOC signs sponsorship deals with Coca-Cola, Mengniu until 2032

Madrid, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday said it had signed sponsorship agreements with the Coca-Cola company and...

Pensions reform: A reviled subject for Japan's Abe government

By Antonio Hermosin Gandul.

First Chinese national elected head of UN food agency

By Belén Delgado

Southeast Asian countries find common ground on world's largest trade deal

By Noel Caballero

Southeast Asian leaders meet in Bangkok to talk free trade, sustainability

Bangkok, Jun 22 (efe-epa).- The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Saturday gathered in Bangkok for a summit to discuss economic...

Latin America needs innovation, planning for sustainability

Washington, Jun 21 (efe-epa).- Latin America faces big challenges in social and environmental sustainability, especially with regard to climate change,...

Coke and Pepsi want to sell you bottled water without the bottle

By Jennifer Maloney

As Chennai city dries up, India stares down growing water crisis

By David Asta Alares.

Vietnam finds itself at a crossroads in the US-China trade war

By Eric San Juan

Apple explores shift away from China

By Yoko Kubota and Tripp Mickle

US bars civilian flights over Iran-controlled airspace amid military tension

Washington, Jun 21 (efe-epa).- The United States aviation regulator on Thursday prohibited commercial airlines of the country from flying in an overwater...

Nissan announces new members of board

Tokyo, Jun 21 (efe-epa).- Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Company on Friday announced the nominees for the board of directors and its new corporate...

Trump: I expect congressional Democrats will do right thing, approve USMCA

Washington, Jun 20 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Thursday that the ratification of the newly renegotiated trade treaty with Mexico and Canada...

Slack shares jump 49.54 pct. on going public without IPO

New York, Jun 20 (efe-epa).- Slack Technologies Inc. on Thursday tried a different approach from other firms wanting to go public by listing its shares...

US-China tension affects Latin America technology, UN official warns

By Luís Lima

Gaudi, flamenco and sun: Spain is sold in China as the ideal film set

By Paula Escalada Medrano.

34th ASEAN summit kicks off in Bangkok with economy, security topping agenda

By David Latona

Mexico's Senate ratifies USMCA in extraordinary session

Mexico City, Jun 19 (efe-epa).- Mexico's Senate on Wednesday ratified a trilateral trade deal meant to supersede the North American Free Trade Agreement...

Fed keeps US interest rates unchanged

Washington, Jun 19 (efe-epa).- The United States Federal Reserve on Wednesday left its benchmark interest rate unchanged despite President Donald Trump's...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.