The former chairman of the management board of Volkswagen AG (VW), Martin Winterkorn, 70, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan with conspiracy and wire fraud in connection with VW’s long-running scheme to cheat U.S. diesel vehicle emissions requirements.
Winterkorn was charged with four counts of violating federal law, including violation of the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW’s supposedly “clean diesel” vehicles to comply with U.S. emissions requirements. “If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price. (...)These are serious allegations, and we will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Sessions.
“Volkswagen deceived American regulators and defrauded American consumers for years,” said U.S. Attorney Schneider. “Today’s indictment of Volkswagen AG’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, sends a clear message that businesses both here in the United States and abroad are expected to conduct their business honestly,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Slater. Winterkorn, who served as VW’s management board chairman and thus VW’s highest ranking executive from January 2007 until September 2015, is the ninth individual against whom U.S. criminal authorities have announced charges in connection with this matter. Winterkorn, after having been clearly informed of the emissions cheating, agreed with other senior VW executives to continue to perpetrate the fraud. Winterkorn resigned shortly after the emissions scandal erupted in September 2015. “Volkswagen continues to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals,” the company said in a statement Thursday.