Federal prosecutors in Detroit on Thursday unsealed charges against former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to mislead regulators about the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating.
Volkswagen did not immediately comment
An indictment filed in secret in March was unsealed in U.S. District Court on the same day as Volkswagen’s annual meeting in Germany. Winterkorn resigned soon after the scandal over polluting vehicles inside the United States became public in September 2015.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement in which the charges show “Volkswagens scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company.”
Winterkorn will be charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud in addition to violating the Clean Air Act via at least May 2006 through November 2015 by using illicit software in which allowed Volkswagen diesel vehicles to emit excess pollution without detection.
Volkswagen initially suggested in which only lower level executives knew of the cheating. although the indictment alleges Winterkorn was informed of VWs diesel emissions cheating in May 2014 in addition to in July 2015 in addition to he agreed with additional senior VW executives “to continue to perpetrate the fraud in addition to deceive U.S. regulators,” prosecutors said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit said Winterkorn was not in custody. In total, nine people have been charged in addition to two have pleaded guilty inside the case. One Italian citizen, a former Audi manager, will be in Germany awaiting extradition.
Six of the former Volkswagen executives charged are in Germany in addition to have avoided facing U.S. prosecutors because Germany typically does not extradite its citizens.