Volkswagen's ex-CEO charged in U.S. for diesel cheating

Former Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn

In the grand jury indictment, unsealed Thursday in Federal District Court in Detroit, Winterkorn was charged with four counts of violating US federal law. On 3 September 2015, VW officially admitted that it had installed defeat devices in various 2.0-liter diesel vehicles sold in the United States. Winterkorn said at the time of his resignation that he wasn't aware of any wrongdoing.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Environmental Protection Administration chief Scott Pruitt and other senior Trump administration officials issued statements criticizing VW with the indictment.

In making the announcement, USA attorney Matthew Schneider said: "The fact that this criminal conduct was allegedly blessed at Volkwagen's highest levels is appalling".

Shortly thereafter, on 22 May 2014, Gottweis wrote a one-page memorandum describing the results of the ICCT study and warning that VW could not give a well-grounded explanation for the dramatically increased NOx emissions and that it could be assumed that the authorities would investigate whether the vehicles contained test-recognition software.

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Updated with comments from Volkswagen. This is significantly less than Credit Suisse's 2015 estimate that the scandal could end up costing as much as $87 billion.

The US Justice Department has already indicted eight former and current employees of VW.

In total, nine people have been charged and two have pleaded guilty in the case.

When such an investigation did open up, the indictment charges that Winterkorn and other executives "pursued a strategy of concealing the defeat device in responding to questions from USA regulators, while appearing to cooperate".

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However, Winterkorn can escape facing trial in person by just remaining in his home country of Germany.

When the scandal broke in 2015, then-CEO Winterkorn denied having knowledge of the efforts by VW engineers to use a device and software to pass emissions inspections.

Shareholders have filed complaints alleging damages in the billions because VW's share price went into a sharp decline due to the scandal.

The threat to stop US sales reportedly sent Volkswagen into panic mode and they held a "damage table meeting" on July 27th, 2015 in Wolfsburg, Germany.

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In March previous year, VW paid a $2.8 billion fine after pleading guilty to deceiving United States regulators with the defeat devices.

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