Former Volkswagen CEO charged with Dieselgate fraud

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged with fraud by German prosecutors investigating the Dieselgate scandal, as have four other executives.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it fitted hundreds of thousands of diesel-engined cars with ‘defeat devices’ that allowed them to beat US emissions tests. The German firm was then forced to recall hundreds of thousands of cars.

Prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig investigating the scandal claim Winterkorn violated competition laws by not disclosing the manipulation of diesel engines and failing to prohibit the installation of further engines featuring the illegal software.

They also claim Winterkorn approved a software update, at a cost of €23 million (£19.8 million), that was “useless” but served to “continue obscuring” the use of the defeat device systems.

If found guilty, reports suggest Winterkorn faces between six months and 10 years in prison. The 71-year-old German was also charged with fraud by American prosecutors last year.

The four other unnamed Volkswagen executives have all been charged with a variety of fraud charges relating to the scandal. The Braunschweig prosecutors say the indictment covers 692 pages, with an additional 300 file volumes featuring 75,000 pages, to explain the charges.

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate 36 more defendants and have yet to decide whether to charge them.