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U.S. Brings Criminal Charges On Ex-Volkswagen CEO Winterkorn On The Diesel Emission Scandal

U.S. Brings Criminal Charges On Ex-Volkswagen CEO Winterkorn On The Diesel Emission Scandal
The former Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn has been accused of conspiracy of covering up of the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday which has filed criminal charges against him.
Days after the revelation of the diesel emission scandal in the U.S. in September of 3015, Winterkorn had resigned from its his position.
This is among the rare occasions that a CEO had been indicted of criminal charges even as VW was criticized by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Environmental Protection Administration chief Scott Pruitt and other Trump administration official through statements.
“If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price,” Sessions said.
While the VW CEO has been personally held liable for the scandal, no individual had been targeted in some of the other scandals which included the Toyota Motor Corp which was charged in the sudden unintended acceleration scandal and the General Motors Co charged with allegations of attempting a cover-up of the deadly ignition switch defect.
Similarly, no personal indictment was pressed against senior financial industry executives in relation to the financial crisis of 2007-09 even as advocates of stricter punishment had criticized the action of the government.
Many however are attaching symbolic element to the U.S. indictment of Winterkorn. It is almost certain that he would seek protection against the indictment under the German law and would not come to the United States because he is a German citizen. however, the German authorities are also investigating the former C EO in the same scandal.
A $4.3 billion payment was agreed to by VW with the U.S. Justice Department in 2017 to settle the criminal charges brought against it. And to cater to the compensation claims made by owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, the company has agreed to spend over $25 billion in total in the U.S.
More than 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles had also been agreed to be bought back by the car maker.
Volkswagen has managed to runaround its sale fortunes in the U.S and has promised to expend billions on a number of new electric vehicles in an effort to get out of the emissions scandal. But now the crisis is being threatened to get prolonged as the criminal charge brings out the question of whether other senior VW executives were aware of the scandal.
A Volkswagen spokesman in Germany said the company “continues to cooperate with investigations” of individuals but would not comment on Thursday’s charges.
The charges against Winterkorn reflected “Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company”, Sessions said in a statement.
The statement said that the incident that ultimately led to the criminal charges was a meeting that took place on July 27, 2015 where a presentation was given by Volkswagen employees to Winterkorn and “other senior VW AG management at an in-person meeting at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg.” The statement further said that the meeting gave a “clear picture” about the manner in which VW was cheating the U.S. regulators with the help of the software for ultimately rigging emissions tests of Volkswagen diesel vehicles.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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