This is with regard to the former CEO’s possible role in the ongoing Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal. The prosecutors are now working to ascertain when Winterkorn first became aware of the company’s emissions testing fraud, as well as how involved he was in it.
This new investigation builds on another in the same town which is investigating Volkswagen for market manipulation.
As some background, Winterkorn resigned from his position as Volkswagen CEO late in 2015, not long after the company acknowledged it had used defeat devices as a means of defrauding those performing emissions tests.
Reuters provides more:
“VW has said its executive board did not learn of the software violations until late August 2015 and formally reported the cheating to US authorities in early September that year.
“Appearing before German lawmakers last week Winterkorn refused to say when he first learned about systematic exhaust emissions cheating but said it was no earlier than VW has officially admitted.
“‘For now, Dr Winterkorn is sticking with the statement he made before a German parliamentary committee of inquiry (into the scandal) on January 19,’ Felix Doerr, a Frankfurt-based lawyer for Winterkorn, said in an emailed statement.”
Prosecutors in Braunschweig have revealed that they have searched 28 homes and offices this week in connection with the investigation. In total, the number of people now facing charges in connection with the emissions testing fraud scandal is 37.
A statement on the matter from the prosecutors reads: “Sufficient indications have resulted from the investigation, particularly the questioning of witnesses and suspects as well as the analysis of seized data, that the accused (Winterkorn) may have known about the manipulating software and its effects sooner than he has said publicly.”
As a reminder, a fellow Volkswagen exec was recently arrested in the US on related charges. It’ll be interesting to see how many heads eventually roll as a result of this scandal. (Nowhere near the number of premature deaths caused by the excess NOx and particulate pollution that has accompanied Volkswagen’s fraud, but still hopefully quite a few…).
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