The US Justice Department has disclosed the filing of criminal charges against former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up the German auto maker's diesel emissions cheating.
Winterkorn, 70, was listed for the first time with five other German Volkswagen executives originally charged in 2016, who the government believes are responsible for the company's diesel emissions scandal.
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is facing some serious charges in relation to the automaker's Dieselgate scandal.
The US indictment of Winterkorn is likely to be largely symbolic. It is unclear, however, if German prosecutors are pursuing a parallel investigation that could lead to charges in the disgraced executive's home country.
He resigned not long after the scandal became public in September 2015, maintaining he had no prior knowledge of the effort.
"If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price", said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement.
The automaker pleaded guilty in January 2017 to using false statements to import cars into the USA and to obstructing investigations, and paid $4.3 billion in penalties. He is the ninth person charged by the USA government in this scandal.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of using a so-called "defeat device" on its 2.0-liter turbodiesel. He went on to say "The indictment unsealed today alleges that Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company".
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. Two former VW engineers, Oliver Schmidt and James Liang, pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy alleged in the indictment and are now serving prison sentences of 84 months and 40 months, respectively.
The indictment charges that Winterkorn was informed of the cheating scheme in July 2015 and approved a strategy aimed at keeping U.S. regulators in the dark.
Volkswagen said in a statement that it does not comment on individual cases.
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