August 5, 2020

The ex-president of Volkswagen will be judged by the scandal of «diselgate»


It will be a criminal trial and Martin Winterkorn faces up to 10 years in prison. The German justice system has accelerated the procedure for the «dieselgate» indicting for fraud the former president of Volkswagen and four other responsible for the manufacturer by tricking millions of diesel cars to falsify pollution measurements. Winterkorn has been accused of "fraud" and "violation of the law against unfair competition," according to the statement of the Brunswick prosecutor's office, which has not disclosed, on the other hand, the identity of the other four defendants nor their past or past functions. present at Volkswagen.

The ex-president of the most emblematic German car manufacturer was in charge of the company when the scandal broke out, in September 2015, and «Did not divulge, when he became aware», on May 25, 2014, "to the authorities and to customers in Europe and the United States, the illegal manipulations of diesel engines," says the prosecution.

He also complains that he should have resigned long before the scandal and is accused of «Not to have prevented the sale of cars equipped with programs» able to falsify the levels of contamination neither from the moment in which it had knowledge of the subject nor from the moment in which the German press published the first reports on the matter.

The Volkswagen group, in turn, is accused of having proceeded "with the endorsement of Winterkorn" in November 2014 to a "useless" update of a program to "continue to cover up" the fraud. The German giant, which groups twelve brands, admitted in 2015 have equipped 11 million cars with programs capable of falsifying the level of emissions.

The summary of this trial has accumulated 75,000 pages. The Volkswagen board closed ranks for months around Winterkorn and his team but finally acknowledged in 2016 that his former president was warned in a May 2014 "memo" about the irregularities of US emissions levels. Martin Winterkorn, engineer, at the head of Volkswagen between 2007 and 2015, presumed to know "each nut" of their models and marked a style of direction in the German automotive company, very personalized and authoritarian, which collapsed after the scandal, plunging the company into the worst crisis in its history and the German industry in a period of uncertainty that is seriously damaging both the "made in Germany" and the prospects for German GDP growth.

In the United States, where Volkswagen pleaded guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice, eight current and former directors of the company, including Winterkorn, have been prosecuted for "fraud" and "conspiracy." Volkswagen's defense maintains that it was a handful of engineers who organized the deception, without their superiors' knowledge, and that the information known to the directors did not oblige them to inform the market. So far the fraud has cost Volskwagen some 29,000 million euros in calls to review cars and legal proceedings. The majority of this amount was paid in the United States. In Germany, last year, two fines of 1,800 million euros were recorded and, in addition to the trial that has already begun, another one is emerging, after a collective complaint that already amounts to more than 410,000 customers.

After his resignation and from the beginning of 2017, Martin Winterkor charges a daily pension of 3,100 euros, according to information published by "Bild", one of the highest paid or charged business managers in the history of Germany. Until December 31, 2016, it received an annual base salary of 1.6 million euros and from 2017 it receives 70% of its base salary, that is, 93,000 euros per month. In his last summer at the helm of the company, the scandal has already exploded, he also collected 4.1 million euros in bonuses and at the end of the year 1.7 million euros. Other members of the board, as a gesture to employees, renounced 30% of their bonuses due to the crisis. Winterkorn, who at the time of his resignation was the highest-paid executive in Germany, did not participate in that initiative and in his last year before the fraud was heard, Volkswagen received more than 16 million euros in total.

On the other hand, the "dieselgate" brought Volkswagen record losses of 1,600 million euros in the first year after uncovering the fraud and the directive, now headed by Matthias Müller, announced the reduction of 30,000 jobs until 2020, in addition to not renewing the contracts of several thousand temporary workers.


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