Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn Charged with Conspiracy and Wire Fraud

Martin Winterkorn 9 photos
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Martin Winterkorn, the man who led German auto group Volkswagen from 2007 to 2015, has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) with conspiracy to defraud the US government and customers, wire fraud, and conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.
According to documents which surfaced on Thursday, the charges against Winterkorn were filed in March but were only unsealed this week. The indictment marks the first time authorities have moved against top executives at Volkswagen in the Dieselgate scandal.

"The indictment unsealed today alleges that Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement cited by the Economic Times.

Winterkorn, now aged 70, has thus joined a select group of several other Volkswagen employees indicted in the now infamous Dieselgate scandal in the U.S. According to the papers, the CEO was at one point informed of the illegal practices of the company and decided to cover them up.

He allegedly found out of the so-called defeat device installed in the carmaker’s cars in 2014, following a study of West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions.

He asked for explanations from his colleagues and received a memo which stated that “a thorough explanation for the dramatic increase in Nox emissions cannot be given to the authorities.

When the U.S. began looking into the discrepancies found between the declared and discovered emissions levels, Winterkorn decided to conceal the "defeat device in responding to questions from US regulators, while appearing to cooperate,Ars Technica reports.

Furthermore, the CEO instructed his employees to continue to deceit authorities, the papers say.

The U.S. believes Winterkorn is currently in Germany but did not announce yet plans to arrest or extradite him. Volkswagen said in a statement that it does not comment on individual cases.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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