Volkswagen ex-CEO charged with fraud in diesel emissions scandal

Posted May 3, 2018 4:35 p.m. EDT

— The US government has charged Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, with fraud in the company's diesel emissions-cheating scandal.

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. The federal prosecutors say the charges stem from Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal, which was unearthed by the Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations in 2015.

Diesel cars from Volkswagen and Audi were rigged to cheat on clean air rules with software that made emissions look cleaner than they actually were, according to federal and California regulators.

Volkswagen admitted in late 2015 that it fitted as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide with software that could cheat emissions tests.

In a statement, Volkswagen said "It continues to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals. It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases."

Winterkorn, 70, is believed to be a resident of Germany. He is the ninth person charged by the US government in this scandal. Two former engineers have pleaded guilty.