Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was charged in Germany this week for his alleged role in the massive “Dieselgate” scandal that was first reported on in 2015.
Winterkorn, who served as the head of Volkswagen between 2007 and 2015, has been charged in connection to a massive diesel-rigging scandal that has cost the company an estimated $33 billion. According to a report from Bloomberg News, Winterkorn and others have been accused of placing “defeat devices” in vehicles, which made it look like the cars were far more eco-friendly than they actually were.
The Volkswagen scandal emerged in 2015, when news outlets first reported that the car company had withheld information about the emission software that had been deployed in its diesel cars. The software was used to make it appear like the Volkswagen vehicles had strong emissions test results. In reality, the software would simply turn on when it noticed that the car was being tested. During the test, the software would activate settings in the car that would reduce emissions. During regular driving, the software would turn off, resulting in the car producing standard emission levels.
Winterkorn and five other managers are now the first to be charged in Germany over the Volkswagen scandal. Winterkorn was charged by the SEC for defrauding investors. If Winterkorn is convicted of those charges, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a whopping $12 million fine.
The indictment claims that nine million Volkswagen cars with the fraudulent emissions software were sold in the United States and Europe.
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