Business World

Thursday 19 September 2019

Ex-VW hero Winterkorn faces backlash over diesel scandal

Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of the German car manufacturer Volkswagen (AP)
Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of the German car manufacturer Volkswagen (AP)

Eyk Henning

Once revered in Germany for building Volkswagen into the world's biggest carmaker, former CEO Martin Winterkorn is now facing a growing backlash in his home country, with calls for him to be held accountable for the diesel cheating scandal following his US indictment.

Politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, as well as opposition politicians, said Winterkorn should face punitive actions in Germany for creating a culture in the company that allowed such a scandal to take place.

"I cannot imagine that the accusations would only lead to an indictment in the US but not in Germany," Georg Nuesslein, from Merkel's Christian Democratic-led bloc, told 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung'.

He said he found it puzzling that an executive can steer "such a global company and still claim he didn't know about all of this".

A US federal indictment of Winterkorn, who has maintained his innocence throughout, was unsealed on Thursday, accusing him of conspiring to defraud the US and violate the country's clean air laws.

He's also under investigation in Germany.

Winterkorn is also facing possible action by his former employer.

VW said that it was looking into pursuing possible clawbacks from current and former executives. Winterkorn has repeatedly claimed he wasn't aware of the diesel cheating software that engulfed the company, most notably when he stepped down in 2015 and again last year at a hearing with German politicians. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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