A year and change after the auto maker pleaded guilty to obstructing investigations and importing cars under false pretenses, Volkswagen's former CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a USA court.
Martin Winterkorn is accused by lawyers in Detroit of conspiring to mislead regulators about the German auto maker's efforts to cheat the emissions tests.
Winterkorn was among the first wave of executives ousted by VW Group as the emissions cheating debacle came to light late in 2015. Winterkorn resigned shortly after the scandal became public.
Winterkorn's charges bring the USA criminal case to the uppermost levels of Volkswagen, which pleaded guilty past year to lying to American environmental regulators about emission control systems. He went on to say "The indictment unsealed today alleges that Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company".
"Volkswagen deceived American regulators and defrauded American consumers for years", said Matthew Schneider, US Attorney for the State of MI, in a statement.More news: Fire Causes Collapse of Tall Building in São Paulo, Brazil
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Indictment comes in U.S. District Court in Detroit. "These are serious allegations, and we will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law". He is the ninth person charged by the USA government in this scandal. As part of a plea deal, VW paid a $2.8 billion penalty and agreed to allow an independent monitor to oversee compliance with emissions testing for at least three years.
In the aftermath of revelations about Volkswagen's emissions test cheating, Volkswagen publicly stated that the illegal software had been placed on the cars by "rogue engineers" and that company executives were not involved or culpable.
Five other VW execs and managers have been indicted but remain at large.
In a statement, Volkswagen said it continues to cooperate with the Justice Department in the investigation but added it would be "inappropriate to comment on individual cases".