An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Former Volkswagen AG head Martin Winterkorn was charged with serious fraud in Germany for his role in the diesel-rigging scandal that rocked the carmaker and cost it about $33 billion. The former chief executive officer was accused alongside four other managers of equipping vehicles sold to customers in Europe and the U.S. with a so-called defeat device, authorities in Braunschweig said Monday in an emailed statement. Fraud charges carry a sentence of as long as 10 years, and prosecutors also want to seize bonuses paid to the five men, which ranged from 300,000 euros for some managers to about 11 million euros for Winterkorn.
Allegations that VW wrongfully withheld information about the emission software used in its diesel cars have loomed over the company since the scandal first broke in 2015. The crisis involved as many as 11 million diesel cars worldwide, and shattered the Wolfsburg-based company’s reputation. Winterkorn’s lawyer Felix Doerr said prosecutors haven’t given him full access to their files. Unless all information is disclosed to him, he said, he can’t comment on the charges. Winterkorn was also charged with breach of trust for failing to swiftly tell authorities about the defeat devices used “to seemingly meet tightened emission standards for diesel cars and preserve market shares for VW or even increase them for the benefit of the company and the accused themselves,” prosecutors said.
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