Martin Winterkorn, former executive of Volkswagen, has just been indicted by the United States Justice Department for conspiracy and wire fraud. He has been implicated in a long-running scandal to defraud the U.S. government about the company’s true level of vehicle emissions.
According to U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, the Volkswagen company has been deceiving both American consumers and regulatory agencies for several years. The highest-ranking members of the business were both aware and complicit in the criminal activity. Their criminal behavior cheated the American public and ultimately caused harm to the environment by circumventing the legal system meant to regulate such activity.
In 2017, the company was found guilty of deceiving the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board when they were installing defeat devices in diesel vehicles that would cheat the regulatory agency’s emissions tests. The company entered into a plea agreement with the Justice Department and paid criminal sanctions of $2.8 billion.
This newest indictment against Winterkorn explains the cheating was confirmed to take place in both May of 2014 and July of 2015. The indictment does show that Winterkorn was informed and complicit in the cheating. Later, he specifically decided to withhold information and deceive U.S. authorities rather than disclosing the truth.
Winterkorn was the company’s board chairman from January 2007 to September 2015. He is facing four counts of violating federal law including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to defraud Volkswagen’s customers, violating the Clean Air Act by making misleading and false statements and wire fraud. Attorney General Jeff Sessions explains “If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price.”