Ex-Volkswagen CEO charged for role in diesel emission scandal

A year and change after the car maker pleaded guilty to obstructing investigations and importing cars under false pretenses, Volkswagen’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a U.S. court. All of this stems from a diesel emissions scandal that ultimately found VW paying $4.3 billion in penalties.

Winterkorn stepped down from his role at Volkswagen in September of 2015, only a matter of days after the German car maker confessed to outfitting 11 million cars with a device designed to cheat at emissions testing.

Winterkorn is the highest ranking of a number of former executives named in an indictment unsealed by U.S. courts today. Initial claims by VW had suggested that the cheating was only known by lower-level executives, but the indictment suggests that the former CEO was alerted to the situation as far back as 2014.

”The indictment of Winterkorn alleges that he was informed of VW’s diesel emissions cheating in May 2014 and again in July 2015,” the Justice Department said in a statement issued today. “The indictment further alleges that Winterkorn, after having been clearly informed of the emissions cheating, agreed with other senior VW executives to continue to perpetrate the fraud and deceive U.S. regulators.

The scandal has continued to plague the automaker. Last month, CEO Matthias Müller stepped down from the CEO role three years after replacing Winterkorn.