Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn charged in USA over diesel emissions scandal

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A lawyer for Winterkorn in Germany did not immediately comment.

The eighth is an Italian citizen and the former manager of VW's subsidiary Audi.

According to the indictment, Winterkorn was briefed in 2015 about the situation, at which time he allegedly gave the green light to continued concealment of the vehicles' defeat devices, which were used to bypass federal emissions regulations.

Winterkorn, now aged 70, has thus joined a select group of several other Volkswagen employees indicted in the now infamous Dieselgate scandal in the U.S. According to the papers, the CEO was at one point informed of the illegal practices of the company and chose to cover them up.

VW's false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW's supposedly "clean diesel" vehicles to comply with United States emissions requirements affected about 600,000 vehicles across the country. They also spelled out the potential consequences of being caught. The former chief executive is also under investigation by German authorities. Gottweis's memorandum was then attached to a cover note authored by a then-senior VW executive, and addressed to Winterkorn.

Prosecutors say that following the meeting, Winterkorn authorized the company to continue lying to American authorities. Instead, VW sought to deceive USA regulators about the causes for the significant discrepancies between emissions tests and emissions values measured on the road. Eight other individuals have now been charged by U.S. authorities in the scandal.

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Winterkorn led the meeting during which engine development department employees described how VW was deceiving USA regulators, including precisely what information had been disclosed and what had not yet been disclosed.

The US indictment of Winterkorn is likely to be largely symbolic.

Winterkorn had served as VW's CEO and management board chairman from January 2007 until September 2015.

The ex-VW boss is the highest ranking executive to have been charged over the scandal, although the indictment that was unsealed late yesterday also charged five other VW execs.

VW admitted in September 2015 that it outfitted about 11 million diesel cars worldwide with a defeat device, embedded software that permitted vehicles to recognize when they were being tested in laboratory conditions, and to reduce emissions to meet acceptable levels.

Mr Winterkorn, who resigned from the company as a storm erupted over the company's behaviour in September 2015, has always maintained he knew nothing about software created to cheat lab emission tests.

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