A German court has ruled that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn must stand trial on fraud charges in connection with the company’s diesel emissions scandal.
The court in Braunschweig in Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony ruled that car buyers suffered a financial loss when they bought a car without being aware it was equipped with illegal software. The court found a “predominant likelihood” of conviction in the fraud charge.
It said four other defendants would face trial on charges of fraud in connection with aggravated tax evasion and illegal advertising. Dates for a public trial are to be set later.
Winterkorn resigned from Volkswagen days after the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a notice of violation on September 18, 2015. The company had for years been using software that recognised when vehicles were on test stands and turned emission controls on, then turned the emission controls off during normal driving.
As a result, the cars emitted far more than the legal US limit of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that harms people’s health.
Winterkorn also faces criminal charges in the US but cannot be extradited.
Volkswagen has paid more than €30 billion in fines and settlements over the scandal.