On May 3, 2018, authorities announced the unsealing of wire fraud and conspiracy charges against former Volkswagen AG (“VW”) CEO and board chairman Martin Winterkorn in connection with VW’s use of so-called “defeat device” software to cheat U.S. vehicle emissions testing.  Winterkorn is accused of conspiring with other VW executives and employees to defraud the United States, defraud VW’s U.S. customers, and to violate the Clean Air Act through false representations regarding the compliance of the VW’s “clean diesel” vehicles with U.S. emissions standards.  According to the indictment, which was filed in federal court in Detroit, Winterkorn agreed with other senior executives to continue to perpetrate the company’s emissions-related fraud and to mislead U.S. regulators after learning of an independent study that threatened to expose VW’s use of defeat devices in mid-2014, which U.S. regulators then inquired about in 2015.  Authorities allege that Winterkorn presided over a July 2015 meeting during which he approved a strategy that included providing regulators with incomplete and misleading information.  Winterkorn is the ninth individual charged in the United States in connection with VW’s conduct.  The company pleaded guilty to related criminal charges in March 2017 and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion penalty.

United States v. Dorenkamp, 16-cr-20394 (E.D. Mich.)

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