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Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn Investigated for Fraud in Germany

If we could have a 30-second interview with any of the Volkswagen big wigs involved in the DieselGate scandal, we'd ask only one question: was it worth it? Public prosecutors in Germany have just confirmed the former CEO of Volkswagen Group, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn is being investigated for fraud, and that's no laughing matter.
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn Investigated for Fraud in Germany 1 photo
It seems selling cars with fake emissions numbers is not only bad for the environment, but it's also a form of crime. The German Center for Economic Criminal Matters is now looking to see if Winterkorn is responsible for duping millions of VW customers with fraudulent exhaust emissions values, according to AutoNews Europe.

In the wake of the huge TDI emissions scandal, Winterkorn resigned from his position as CEO of the group he held since 2007. Under his guidance, the German firm grew into not only the biggest car-making conglomerate in Europe, but possibly the entire world.

On Wednesday, the 23rd of September, he officially announced his resignation, but claimed there was no "wrongdoing on his part". However, German magazine Bild am Sonntag recently stated Volkswagen had been warned about the so-called "defeat device" as early as 2007. That year, Winterkorn reportedly asked Audi development boss Ulrich Hackenberg and Audi engine boss Wolfgang Hatz to move to VW’s Wolfsburg and pursue his TDI dreams.

Up to 11 million cars equipped with the TDI engines could be affected, around half of which were made by Volkswagen. Audi says it has 2.1 million of the affected cars, followed by Skoda with 1.2 million and Spanish carmaker seat with around 700,000.

Despite the scandal, the ex-CEO stands to earn around €30 million each year in pension money and dividends. Not only has Volkswagen taken a huge marketing blow, but the scandal pushed stocks nearly 40% lower since September 18th, effectively wiping out €27 billion ($30.3 billion) of market capitalization.

So we return to the question at the beginning of the story. Was it worth it? Sometimes, being ambitious could be a bad thing.


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