US Justice Department charges former VW CEO with conspiracy, wire fraud

04 May, 2018, 07:19 | Author: Kevin Carter
  • Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn 'charged' in US over dieselgate

The indictment also states that Winterkorn was informed of the emissions cheating by a memo sent in May 2014.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of using a so-called "defeat device" on its 2.0-liter turbodiesel. All of this stems from a diesel emissions scandal that ultimately found VW paying $4.3 billion in penalties. If the auto was being tested in a lab, however, sensors would tell the vehicle to keep the emissions control system engaged. During said testing, the vehicles would curtail their emissions output, but once on the road, the vehicles would pollute well in excess of legal limits.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted that approximately 11 million of its vehicles worldwide contained software for cheating on emissions tests. Several executives were named in the indictment.

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned after claiming to have no knowledge of the diesel cheat devices.

The indictment was unsealed in Detroit on Thursday, revealing that Winterkorn had been charged on March 14 with wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud VW's American customers and violate the Clean Air Act. Schmidt was in charge of emissions compliance for Volkswagen cars in the USA, and he was arrested while on vacation in Miami in 2016.

More news: New US Secretary of state: We will use tough diplomacy

Last December, Oliver Schmidt, a senior Volkswagen executive, was jailed for seven years and fined $400,000 for his part in the scheme. At the time, US regulators threatened to withhold authorization for Volkswagen to sell 2016 model year vehicles in the United States until the company explained the discrepancies raised by the ICCT study. The memo predicted that the U.S. would open an investigation into the discrepancy.

The indictment further alleges that Winterkorn, after having been clearly informed of the emissions cheating, agreed with other senior VW executives to continue to perpetrate the fraud and deceive USA regulators. Volkswagen continued to deny the existence of defeat devices until the summer of 2015. A PowerPoint presentation was allegedly created, detailing exactly how VW was deceiving regulators "including precisely what information had been disclosed to U.S. regulators and what information had not yet been disclosed".

The indictment describes a July 27, 2015 meeting at which VW employees presented PowerPoint slides to Winterkorn and "other senior VW AG management at an in-person meeting at VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg".

Winterkorn, 70, is believed to be a resident of Germany.

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