Volkswagen CEO, Chairman, and Former CEO Indicted in Diesel Scandal

Methodical German prosecutors have finally made their way to the top of Volkswagen’s executive ranks, charging CEO Herbert Diess and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch with stock market manipulation.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig indicted Diess, Pötsch, and former CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing the men of withholding information of a looming emissions scandal from investors. Winterkorn, already indicted by U.S. authorities and slapped with a fraud charge in Germany, stepped down shortly after the scandal broke in September 2015.

Diess vows to stay on as VW’s boss as the charges play out.

As reported by Reuters, lawyers for Diess state the CEO only came aboard the company in July 2015 and couldn’t have known about the eventual 37-percent stock plunge. Investors lost enormous sums from the stock devaluation once the diesel emissions cheating became public.

Diess, his lawyers claim, will defend himself by “all legal means” while continuing in his role as CEO.

While his arrival at the company came late during the scandal’s lead-up, prosecutors say Diess, Pötsch, and Winterkorn were all present at a fateful July 27th, 2015 meeting in which the company’s emissions-cheating emissions control devices were the main topic. The VW hierarchy had gathered to discuss when to inform U.S. authorities of the fact VW’s diesel models came equipped with devices specifically designed to cheat regulatory tests.

VW’s position has always been that its top brass did not have a full picture of the issue and what it would mean for the company’s stock. Ultimately, the automaker was forced to pay tens of billions of dollars in fines, fixes, and vehicle buybacks.

“The company has meticulously investigated this matter with the help of internal and external legal experts for almost four years. The result is clear: the allegations are groundless,” said Hiltrud Dorothea Werner, VW’s board member responsible for integrity and legal affairs, in a statement reported by Autocar.

“Volkswagen AG, therefore, remains confident that it has fulfilled all its reporting obligations under capital markets law. If there is a trial, we are confident that the allegations will prove to be unfounded. Furthermore, the presumption of innocence applies until proven otherwise.”

shared from TTAC