Feds indict ex-VW CEO in diesel-cheating scandal

Martin Winterkorn

Martin Winterkorn

Volkswagen did not immediately comment.

An indictment filed in federal court in March and unsealed this week lists Winterkorn among several former executives hit with charges of violating the clean air act and conspiracy to defraud the US.

"Volkswagen deceived American regulators and defrauded American consumers for years", Matthew J. Schneider, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of MI, said in a statement. At the meeting, however, in direct contravention of the instructions from his superiors, a VW employee, in answering a direct question from CARB, revealed that VW had been using software in its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles to cheat U.S. emissions tests.

Volkswagen, the world's largest auto manufacturer, acknowledged in 2015 that it equipped more than 11 million diesel vehicles with software that allowed them to emit excess pollution and cheat on emissions tests.

The charges were in connection with VW's long-running scheme to cheat USA diesel vehicle emissions requirements.

Winterkorn is accused of approving continued concealment of the cheating software, even after USA authorities began their investigation.

Like Winterkorn, they have not been apprehended and reside in Germany. One Italian citizen, a former Audi manager, is in Germany awaiting extradition. 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. The Volkswagen group will also be spending close to $25 billion in the United States alone to address class action lawsuits and claims from owners, environmental regulators and dealers. Winterkorn has said he did not learn of the cheating until late August 2015.

When the USA began looking into the discrepancies found between the declared and discovered emissions levels, Winterkorn made a decision to hide the "defeat device in responding to questions from United States regulators, while appearing to cooperate, " Ars Technica reports.

The September 2015 disclosure that VW had for at least six years intentionally cheated on emissions tests did massive damage to the company's reputation around the world and prompted massive compensation and vehicle refit costs.

And following the meeting, Winterkorn authorized the company to continue lying to American authorities.

After this meeting, Winterkorn allegedly approved a course of action to send Oliver Schmidt to meet with a senior CARB official to get the approval to sell 2016 model year vehicles in the United States without revealing the defeat device.

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