Crime

Former VW CEO Charged With Four Felonies In America

Take a wild guess as to why and what the charges are.

As much as Volkswagen would love to have Dieselgate placed firmly in the past once and for all, the scandal continues to haunt the German automaker. The latest news involves former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, who has just been charged by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) with four felonies that could ultimately mean years in federal prison. Late last week, the DOJ unsealed an indictment in a Detroit court, originally filed on March 14, in which Winterkorn was named along with five other VW executives who are still in Germany.

Those executives were formally charged in January 2017. As for Winterkorn, the DOJ is charging him with some very serious crimes, such as conspiracy to defraud the US and VW customers, violating the Clean Air Act, and three counts of wire fraud. Winterkorn resigned from his position in September 2015 following the revelations the company, during his time as CEO, purposely manipulated diesel vehicle emissions. Until now, he had not been charged with any crime. According to the DOJ’s findings, Winterkorn knew of the rigged emissions as early as May 2014 following an independent study conducted at West Virginia University.

The DOJ claims Winterkorn received a one-page summary detailing the researchers' findings that also alerted him to the possibility of a full-scale US government investigation. In July of that year, Winterkorn chaired a so-called “damage table meeting” with other senior VW executives. It was there when those executives discussed “what information had been disclosed and what had not yet been disclosed.” Also according to the indictment, they were also concerned with the “potential consequences of VW being caught cheating.” Remember, all of this allegedly happened before the public found out.

And if that wasn’t already shady enough then get this: Winterkorn asked Oliver Schmidt, general manager of VW’s Michigan environmental engineering office at the time and now serving a 7-year prison sentence for his role in the cover-up, to meet with the California Air Resources in a supposed effort to conceal VW’s actions. When Winterkorn resigned and admitted what VW had done that September, he only apologized at the behest of VW, but admitted no personal fault.

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