Volkswagen former chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was charged in a MI federal court with conspiracy and wire fraud in relation to a probe into the German automaker's efforts to cheat US diesel emissions testing, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The charges, which were filed in March were revealed on Thursday and adds Winterkorn to the list of nine accused former Volkswagen executives.
Winterkorn, 70, was listed for the first time with five other German Volkswagen executives originally charged in 2016, who the government believes are responsible for the company's diesel emissions scandal.
The remaining three counts charge Winterkorn with wire fraud in connection with the scheme.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said after Winterkorn's indictment that "Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company".
The meeting provided a "clear picture" of how the company was deceiving United States regulators about software used to rig emissions tests of Volkswagen diesel vehicles, it said.
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The indictment of Winterkorn alleges that he was informed of VW's diesel emissions cheating in May 2014 and again in July 2015.
"Volkswagen deceived American regulators and defrauded American consumers for years", Matthew J. Schneider, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of MI, said in a statement.
When the scandal broke in 2015, then-CEO Winterkorn denied having knowledge of the efforts by VW engineers to use a device and software to pass emissions inspections. The allegations and eventual admission led to billions erased from the company's coffers, Winterkorn's ouster, a worldwide scandal, and one conviction of a VW executive in the U.S.so far.
Winterkorn, who served as VW's management board chairman and was VW's highest ranking executive from January 2007 until Sep.
In total, nine people have been charged and two have pleaded guilty in the case.