4627 Eight more VW employees charged in diesel scandal

Eight more VW employees charged in diesel scandal

HAMBURG — German prosecutors charged another eight Volkswagen employees over the scandal surrounding cheating on diesel engine emission tests.

The eight are accused of fraud, false certification and violation of the law against unfair competition, the Brunswick prosecutor’s office in VW’s home state of Lower Saxony said in a statement on Wednesday.

Some are also alleged to be responsible for embezzlement and tax evasion, or for aiding and abetting those crimes.

The defendants, who are between 50 and 70 years old, helped to implement a defeat device in cars or failed to block it, prosecutors said.

“By marketing the wrong test results, the company’s sales were influenced — as were the bonus payments of the accused,” prosecutors said in a statement. “A technically more elaborate and more expensive engine meeting the emission limits would have sold badly.”

The eight are accused of being involved in the diesel manipulation between November 2006 and September 2015.

They are accused of encouraging, supporting or at least not preventing the installation of illegal software in the engine management system of diesel vehicles produced by Volkswagen despite knowing it was illegal.

Prosecutors declined to identify the employees who have been charged but two names were leaked to the German media.

They are:

  • Bernd Gottweis, who was responsible for quality management from 2007 to 2014. He has also been charged by U.S. prosecutors.
  • Frank Tuch, a former head of corporate quality at Porsche. Tuch was promoted to the VW Group top quality post by former CEO Martin Winterkorn after playing a key role in Porsche’s rise to the top of the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Initial Quality Study. Tuch left VW in 2016.
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Lawyers for the two men told the German business daily Handelsblatt that the executives deny any wrongdoing.

The same charges were already brought against six other VW managers earlier this year, while former CEO Winterkorn and four other managers were charged in connection with the scandal last year.

VW admitted in September 2015 to having used illegal engine control software to cheat U.S. pollution tests, triggering a global backlash against diesel and costing the automaker billions of euros in fines.

At least 25 VW employees have been charged in the U.S. and Germany.

The scandal has cost the world’s largest automaker more than 30 billion euros so far and legal proceedings from disgruntled investors and customers are poised to drag on for years

The first trial in the Volkswagen case in Germany starts next week — that of former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

Bloomberg and Automotive News Europe contributed to this report

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