Former VW chairman Martin Winterkorn to stand trial over dieselgate

Volkswagen Group’s former chairman Martin Winterkorn will stand trial for fraud alongside four other former VW employees in connection to their alleged part in the dieselgate emissions scandal.

A court sitting in Braunschweig, Germany, passed a motion yesterday (September 9) that allows the case against the German carmaker’s former employees to proceed.

The case has been modified to allow prosecutors to push for additional criminal gang charges.

A three-judge panel ruled that nine million VW customers suffered losses amounting to millions of Euro when they bought a car while unaware it was equipped with illegal software.

Winterkorn, who became chairman of Volkswagen in 2007 and stepped down shortly after the dieselgate scandal was exposed in the US in September 2015, was charged in 2019 with equipping various Volkswagen diesel models with a ‘defeat device’ that reduced emissions during official testing, leading to vastly lower CO2 ratings than those achieved in real-world driving conditions.

Yesterday’s hearing heard that there was a “predominant likelihood” of conviction of the five defendants currently facing fraud charges.

The German court revealed in a press release issued this week that it had rejected prosecutors’ claim that defendants should repay their bonuses, however, stating that VW had been the financial beneficiaries of the misconduct. 

To date, AM understands that VW has paid more than 30 billion Euro (£25bn) in fines and settlements over the scandal.

Earlier this year, the Volkswagen Group was ordered to pay more than £3m in legal fees following a High Court ruling that it installed unlawful defeat devices in thousands of its diesel vehicles that were sold to UK customers.

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