The scandal began in September of 2015
9 million Diesel powered vehicles built by Volkswagen group were found to cheat emissions regulations
This is the first trial to target German VW executives
Six years after the scandal over Volkswagen’s polluting diesels, Volkswagen’s former top executives are standing trial in Germany.
Four managers were charged back in 2019 with having signed-off on the use of a cheating software designed to detect EPA test circumstances and conceal emissions levels that were 15 to 35 times higher that the American legislation allowed during regular driving.
These managers will face justice on fraud charges, but also tax evasion, since the cars received tax credits due to their supposedly low emissions which cost the German government $820,000 euros.
The trial that has been postponed twice due to the pandemic is expected to stretch to 2023.
The lowest ranking of the accused, Thorsten D. claims to have warned his superiors about the illegality of the software multiple times. He also allegedly reported the illicit scheme to the American authorities a month before the scandal broke and then collaborated with investigators from the US and Germany.
Missing from the accused is then CEO Martin Winterkorn, who was charged with the same allegations and a charge of false testimony to the parliament was supposed to be tried alongside his former employees, but his trial was postponed due to health reasons.
If he ever faces justice, he will have to explain why he didn’t disclose the scheme which reports show he was aware of before it became public.
The prosecution believes he wanted to continue to deceive authorities because fixing the cars would have reduced company profits, and thus his own bonus.
This scandal has cost Volkswagen more than $35.3 billion as of now. The automaker itself settled by paying 1 billion euros to German prosecutors and accepting sanctions from the US.