In the emissions scandal involving manipulated diesel engines at Volkswagen, other defendants have to answer in court. The Braunschweig regional court approved charges against seven other employees of the company, as the court announced on Friday. The Braunschweig public prosecutor's office had already filed charges in 2020. At that time, eight people were involved.
The application has now been approved with changes by the Commercial Criminal Chamber and the main proceedings have been opened. The court did not name the defendants. A date for the start of the proceedings has not yet been given.
Four Volkswagen managers have been being tried in the regional court since September 2021. The case against former CEO Martin Winterkorn, who had to resign after the diesel scandal was exposed in 2015, was separated with reference to his state of health. It is still unclear whether and when he will be tried. Ex-Audi boss Rupert Stadler was sentenced to a suspended sentence in Munich in June.
Prosecutor: Manipulation “promoted, supported or at least not prevented”
The new defendants in Braunschweig are accused of fraud in a particularly serious case and of violating the law against unlawful competition. There is also possible tax evasion for some of the defendants. However, the court did not see sufficient suspicion for the accusations of false certification and breach of trust made by the public prosecutor.
In its application, the public prosecutor's office assumed that the accused "in their respective responsible positions" between November 2006 and September 2015 "promoted, supported or at least did not prevent" the installation of the manipulation software in VW diesel cars despite knowledge of the illegality.
The fall of 2006, when the targeted deception is said to have begun, came at a time when VW wanted to catch up with its competitors in the difficult US market. A major marketing offensive for “clean diesel” was intended to win more customers.
In September 2015, it emerged that the company was falsifying the measured values using hidden software codes instead of using more expensive exhaust technology. These ensured that the tests were fully cleaned, but emissions were many times higher during road use. The revelation of the scandal plunged VW into the worst crisis in its history.