Volkswagen Criminal Probe Expands to Ex-CEO Winterkorn

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen criminal probe expands to ex ceo winterkorn

German prosecutors say their investigation into Volkswagen’s dirty dealings now includes the company’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

The long-running probe into the diesel emissions scandal recently expanded from 21 suspects to 37, Reuters reports, placing Winterkorn solidly under the microscope. Winterkorn stepped down just days after the scandal went public in September 2015.

The former top boss recently emerged from the shadows to tell a German committee he knew nothing of the decade-long conspiracy under his watch, though prosecutors suspect he may have known more than that.

After moving off the media front burner for months, the diesel scandal hit a rolling boil again when a Volkswagen executive was nabbed by FBI agents at Miami Airport earlier this month. Soon after, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted six current or former execs for their role in the conspiracy. Top company brass have reportedly been warned to avoid travel outside the country.

While the criminal charges remain on the western side of the Atlantic, that doesn’t mean it’s sunshine and rainbows for VW managers and executives at home. A total of 28 homes and offices were searched in the past week, prosecutors said today.

Before this latest news, Winterkorn was already on the hot seat. Prosecutors in the German district of Braunschweig — home of VW headquarters — are investigating the former CEO for market manipulation. A number of investor lawsuits allege he knew about the damaging information before it erased billions in wealth from the company’s stock. Now, Winterkorn finds himself suspected of fraud.

The company’s official response to the investigations claims its executive board only learned of the emissions cheating in late August 2015 — less than a month before the Environmental Protection Agency laid charges, making the scandal public.

[Image: Volkswagen AG/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY 3.0)]

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  • Voyager Voyager on Jan 28, 2017

    I think he knew long before 2015. Why? It's a CEO's business to know, to assess risks etc. If he did not know, then he can be called a bad CEO. In either case, shareholders can start a campaign to reclaim the bonuses Winterkorn has been collecting.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 28, 2017

    Why are they picking on poor Winterkorn? He wasn't *really* in charge - Ferdinand Piech was. Wasn't he the guy who (probably) said to the engineers, "Give me diesel performance with low emissions, or I'll find engineers who can."? There's a French term for what that produces: 'ne riff ne raff' - by hook or by crook.

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  • Art Vandelay Coming to a rental lot near you. And when it does know there is a good chance EBFlex and Tassos have puffed each other's peters in it!
  • Art Vandelay I doubt there is even room for EBFlex and Tassos to puff each other's peters in that POS
  • Art Vandelay The lack of side windows is a boon for EBFlex and Tassos as nobody can see them puffing each other's peters back there!
  • Art Vandelay They all have sunroofs which is good for EBFlex and can stand and hang out the roof while the other puffs his peter