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Dieselgate: Former VW CEO charged with market manipulation

September 24, 2020

A German court has ruled that Winterkorn must stand trial on a second set of "dieselgate" charges. Earlier this month the former VW CEO and four others were charged over their alleged roles in the emissions scandal.

Martin Winterkorn, pictured on January 1, 2017.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka

A German court began proceedings against former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn on Thursday, to ascertain whether he is guilty of market manipulation as part of the carmaker's emissions scandal.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Winterkorn would stand trial over the car giant's "dieselgate" scandal, which involved using software known as "defeat devices" to ensure the vehicles performed better in emissions tests than they would in real-world running.

Now Winterkorn faces additional charges for failing "to inform the capital markets in good time" despite being aware of the installation of the software. A court in Braunschweig near VW's base in Wolfsburg in northern Germany announced the latest case on Thursday; dates are still to be confirmed for both trials.

Lawyers reject allegations

According to the court's statement, the former VW CEO is accused of having withheld the "considerable financial risk arising from claims for damages and penalties in the US since spring 2015."

Winterkorn's legal team said he "firmly rejects" the allegations.

"The facts underlying this accusation are complicated and the relevant capital market law issues are largely disputed," the lawyers said in a statement. "The defense had shown that the allegations made by the public prosecutor's office were unfounded on both factual and legal grounds."

Volkswagen refused to comment on the specifics of the fresh accusations but said it "remains convinced that it has properly fulfilled its disclosure obligations in connection with the diesel issue."

Read more:  Opinion: A big defeat for Volkswagen

The German car giant admitted in September 2015 that it had equipped 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide with the software to make them appear more environmentally friendly in lab tests than they actually were when on the road. Several other carmakers were later found to have used comparable tricks.

Winterkorn quit the company just days after the revelations, albeit denying any wrongdoing himself. At the time, he said the company needed a "fresh start," with the case weighing heavily on the company's stock price.

The saga has already cost VW more than €30 billion ($35 million) in penalties, legal costs and compensation payments to vehicle owners.

jsi/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)