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Dieselgate: VW's ex-chief Winterkorn to stand trial

September 9, 2020

The former Volkswagen chief and four others must stand trial over fraud charges for their alleged role in the scandal that has already cost the carmaker more than €30 billion in fines. Winterkorn denies any wrongdoing.

A VW tailpipe
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte

Volkswagen's former chief executive Martin Winterkorn will stand trial over the car giant's "dieselgate" scam, a German court said Wednesday.

"The chamber has determined that there is sufficient suspicion, that is, an overwhelming possibility of conviction, of the accused Professor Doctor Winterkorn for commercial and organized fraud," the regional court in the city of Braunschweig said in a statement.

Read more: Germany charges four ex-Audi executives with fraud over 'dieselgate' scandal

Dieselgate plunged VW into its biggest crisis

The announcement comes almost five years to the day since Europe's biggest carmaker became engulfed in scandal when US regulators uncovered the mass manipulation of its cars to cheat emissions tests.

Some 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with so-called defeat devices that made them seem cleaner during environmental standards inspections than they were under real-world conditions.

Volkswagen, which employs around 800,000 people, has paid more than €30 billion ($35 billion) in fines, legal costs and compensation payments to car owners since the saga began, the vast majority of which were in the United States.

Winterkorn resigned just days after the revelations in September 2015 but denied any wrongdoing.

Unclear when trial will begin

The 73-year-old will stand trial with four other former Volkswagen colleagues, who are also accused of fraud, as well as serious tax evasion and breaching competition regulations.

Winterkorn will have to answer publicly to the charges. The start date of the trial is yet to be determined.

jsi/sms (AFP, dpa)