Following the emission cheating scandal that befell Volkswagen, German prosecutors have charged ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn and four others with fraud, AP has reported.
The prosecutors said on Tuesday, April 16th, that Winterkorn had knowledge about the plan to cheat CO2 emissions as early as May 2014 but had failed to stop it.
VW had previously admitted installing software in its diesel vehicles that switched on diesel pollution control when they were put through testing and then switched the option off during day-to-day driving. The scheme made VW diesel cars seemingly fit for the tough US limits on harmful pollutants known as nitrogen oxides.
According to the prosecutors, the defendants could be forced to forfeit sales bonuses ranging from around €300,000 to €11 million ($340,000 to $12.45 million).
Winterkorn's attorney, Felix Doerr, said that the defence cannot yet comment on the case on the case as prosecutors had not provided adequate opportunity to review the case files. Doerr said prosecutors turned over seven DVDs with hundreds of file folders of material on April 5th.
Volkswagen has already paid more than €27 billion (currently $31 billion) in fines and civil settlements with authorities and car owners since getting caught in the calculated scheme.
Despite allegations, the company was able to weather the scandal well enough to take the top spot as the world’s largest carmaker from Toyota. Last year, under CEO Herbert Diess, Volkswagen had record sales of 10.83 million vehicles, making an operating profit of €13.9 billion.