Fresh charges against two of Volkswagen's top bosses show the automaker's 2015 diesel emissions scandal is still far from over. German authorities have indicted current VW CEO Herbert Diess, VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and former CEO Martin Winterkorn with stock-market manipulation.
The charges allege each of the executives delayed telling investors about its diesel-emissions cheats in the US, which involved a "defeat device" to produce favorable conditions in laboratory testing. In the real world, VW diesel vehicles spewed far more pollutants than they should have.
"Today, the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office informed Volkswagen AG of the charges against the company and individual defendants in proceedings under the Securities Trading Act," a Volkswagen representative said in a statement. "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. 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."
Diess' lawyers said the CEO will stay in his position and defend against the charges, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Additionally, the Volkswagen board of directors is said to have convened to discuss the indictments.
The fallout from the diesel emissions scandal has, so far, cost VW well over $30 billion. The automaker has paid fines and spent an immense amount of money in buy-back programs. Additionally, the company has updated numerous diesel-powered vehicles with proper software to put the vehicles in compliance with US and other global regulations. The woes have also stretched to additional VW Group divisions Audi and Porsche at various levels.
VW set out to turn a new chapter earlier this year and shed its dirtied image with a new brand logo and the unveiling of its first electric car, the ID 3 hatchback. The EV will go on sale in Europe next year as part of a massive onslaught of zero-emissions vehicles. In the US, the first electric model, called the ID 4, will launch next year.
Originally published Sept. 24, 7:48 a.m. PT.
Update, 8:30 a.m.: Adds comment from Volkswagen.