Germany to Continue Probing Winterkorn and VW, but Does That Mean Anything?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
germany to continue probing winterkorn and vw but does that mean anything

Germany intends to stay on ex-Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn after news broke Thursday that the former top executive faces criminal charges in the United States.

The indictment, filed under seal in March, was opened in a U.S. District Court in Detroit on Thursday during VW’s annual meeting in Germany. “If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company.”

However, the burden of tangible justice will likely fall on Europe. Germany doesn’t make a habit of extraditing citizens for trial, and it’s still conducting its own investigation into VW Group’s emissions-cheating scandal — which it intends to continue.

“Our investigation strategy does not change just because the Americans have filed charges against Winterkorn,” a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office of Brunswick said on Friday. You’ll have to excuse us for not having much faith Germany’s justice system, as its current strategy appears to involve conducting as many raids as humanly possible without any results.

The only exception was the arrest of Joerg Kerner, an engineer in charge of Porsche’s engine division who was working at Audi during the initial scandal, in April of this year. But Kerner was only detained because authorities viewed him as a flight risk. As of this writing, he hasn’t officially been charged with anything.

From what we know, German prosecutors are interested in a handful of VW Group executives, though none have come up on any charges. Whether or not Germany feels like a lengthy jail sentence is the right way to handle corporate crime, the fact remains that it has raided Audi, Porsche, and VW numerous times with little to show for it. The scandal broke nearly three years ago.

Meanwhile, Winterkorn is the ninth person to face criminal charges in the U.S. relating to the emissions-cheating scandal. Two pleaded guilty and have since been sentenced.

Volkswagen itself seems to have recovered, though. With Herbert Diess replacing Matthias Müller — who is now under investigation — as CEO, the company appears to have removed most of the high-profile suspects from its ranks. It also reported a 28 percent jump in first-quarter operating profits this year. Even VW’s share price has largely rebounded from its scandal-related crash. While still below its pre-dieselgate high, it’s healthy enough to presume VW is out of any immediate danger.

We’ll have to wait and see if Germany bothers to attempt to place Winterkorn, or anyone else, in front of a judge. The E.U. has pressed the nation for stricter enforcement of automotive regulations, but nobody in Europe seems all that hungry for blood. Regardless, Diess has promised to step up Volkswagen’s integrity and compliance efforts to ensure something like the emissions fiasco never happens again.

“Volkswagen has to become more honest, more open and more truthful,” Diess told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Berlin. “Besides abiding by the rules and obeying the law, the key here is always ethics — a clear moral compass.”

[Source: Automotive News]

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  • Voyager Voyager on May 05, 2018

    Interesting development. The U.S. have brought charges against Winterkorn (and may wel ask for extradition), whilst U.S. states start litigation against the EPA for its emissions rollback.

  • Skor Skor on May 05, 2018

    They're getting Probed? I guess have a rusty, old Mazda MX-6 twin dumped in front of their HQ will be quite annoying.

  • Arthur Dailey Ford was on a roll with these large cars. The 'aircraft' inspired instrument 'pod' for the driver rather than the 'flat' instrument panel. Note that this vehicle does not have the clock. The hands and numbers are missing. Having the radio controls on the left side of the driver could however be infuriating. Although I admire pop-up/hideaway headlights, Ford's vacuum powered system was indeed an issue. If I left my '78 T-Bird parked for more than about 12 hours, there was a good chance that when I returned the headlight covers had retracted. The first few times this happened it gave me a 'start' as I feared that I may have left the lights on and drained the battery.
  • Jeff S Still a nice car and I remember these very well especially in this shade of green. The headlights were vacuum controlled. I always liked the 67 thru 72 LTDs after that I found them bloated. Had a friend in college with a 2 door 71 LTD which I drove a couple of times it was a nice car.
  • John H Last week after 83 days, dealership said mine needs new engine now. They found metal in oil. Potential 8 to 9 month wait.
  • Dukeisduke An aunt and uncle of mine traded their '70 T-Bird (Beakbird) for a brand-new dark metallic green '75 LTD two-door, fully loaded. My uncle hated seat belts, so the first time I saw the car (it was so new that the '75 models had just landed at the dealerships) he proudly showed me how he'd pulled the front seat belts all the way out of their retractors, and cut the webbing with a razor blade(!).Just a year later, they traded it in for a new '76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (they had owned a couple of Imperials in the '60s), and I imagine the Cadillac dealer took a chunk out to the trade-in, to get the front seat belts replaced.
  • CaddyDaddy Lease fodder that in 6 years will be on the 3rd owner in a poverty bound aspirational individual's backyard in a sub par neighborhood sinking into the dirt. The lending bank will not even want to repossess and take possession of this boat anchor of a toxic waste dump. This proves that EVs are not even close to being ready for prime time (let's not even talk about electrical infrastructure). EVs only exist in wildly expensive virtue signaling status-mobiles. FAIL! I know this is a Hybrid, but it's a Merc., so it will quickly die after the warranty. Show me a practical EV for the masses and I'll listen. At this time, Hybrids are about the way to go for most needing basic transportation.