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April 16, 2019

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Former VW chief to face court over test scandal

Prosecutors in the German city of Braunschweig said yesterday they were pressing criminal charges against former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn in connection with the carmaker’s manipulation of diesel emissions testing.

Four other executives are being charged, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement, without giving their names.

VW was caught using illegal engine control software to cheat US pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel that has so far cost it 29 billion euros (US$32.8 billion).

Prosecutors said Winterkorn was accused of a particularly serious case of fraud, breach of trust and breaching competition laws because he had not acted — despite having a special responsibility to do so as the company’s CEO — after it became clear on May 25, 2014 that diesel engines had been manipulated.

He neglected to inform authorities in Europe and the US as well as customers of the illegal software and he also did not prevent the continued installation of such software, the prosecutors said.

They added that this had resulted in Volkswagen being slapped with much higher fines in Germany and the United States than would have been the case had he acted. VW said it would not comment because the company was not a party to the proceedings.

About a year ago, the US filed criminal charges against Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up the cheating. Winterkorn remains in Germany, which does not typically extradite its citizens for prosecution in US courts.


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