Volkswagen’s former chief executive has been indicted on fraud charges in the United States over the carmaker’s yearslong effort to rig its diesel vehicles to feign compliance with federal emissions standards.
The executive, Martin Winterkorn, was named in a federal indictment unsealed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Detroit.
He is accused of conspiring to defraud the United States government in its enforcement of pollution standards under the Clean Air Act, and conspiring to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act itself. Mr. Winterkorn made false representations and omitted material information in the course of a scheme to “unlawfully enrich VW and themselves,” according to the grand jury’s indictment.
Last year, Volkswagen moved to put the scandal behind it in the United States by agreeing to plead guilty to felony charges of illegally importing nearly 600,000 vehicles equipped with devices to circumvent emissions standards. It paid $4.3 billion in penalties and was put on probation for three years, with a monitor overseeing its compliance with ethics and regulatory measures.
A former Volkswagen manager in Michigan, Oliver Schmidt, was sentenced in December to seven years in prison for his role in the scheme, which has tainted the company’s reputation and cost it more than $20 billion in fines.
Mr. Winterkorn, 70, was Volkswagen’s chief executive for eight years before resigning shortly after the emissions deception was exposed in late 2015.