By on June 20, 2016

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

The first suspect identified by German prosecutors in their probe of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal is none other than the company’s former CEO.

Martin Winterkorn is under investigation for his role in the “defeat device” deception after the country’s financial watchdog demanded it, according to the New York Times

Winterkorn resigned last September, shortly after charges leveled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency blew the lid off the scandal. Since then, the former CEO has been dogged by questions of how much he knew about the deception, and when.

Prosecutors in the German city of Braunschweig clearly had questions of their own. In a statement, they said Winterkorn’s investigation stems from concerns that he waited too long to reveal that Volkswagen was being investigated by U.S. regulators.

The defeat device installed in diesel Volkswagens from 2009 onwards was well known in certain circles. The decision to use it came years after it was invented by Audi engineers, and investigators even found a PowerPoint presentation from 2006 that explained how the device worked.

After he removed himself from the picture, documents came to light that showed Winterkorn was sent a memo detailing the issue a year before the EPA made its move. The matter was also discussed at a board meeting that he attended in the summer of 2015, though the former CEO maintained that he wasn’t aware of the looming charges until shortly before the scandal became public.

Prosecutors said an person who was a member of the management board at the time is also under investigation. Recently, Volkswagen employees came forward to say a manager implicitly told them to destroy evidence of the deception in August 2015.

According to the prosecutors, the second person under investigation is not Hans Dieter Pötsch, the company’s former chief financial officer.

[Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons]

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