German prosecutors from Braunschweig have filed charges against three current and former Volkswagen executives for failing to warn investors early enough about the financial implications of the Dieselgate emissions cheating scheme.
Now charges have been laid, a panel of three judges will decide whether the case goes to trial. Due to the complexity of the case, the process is expect to take several months, and lawyers for the prosecution and the defendants will get to put their version of events before the panel.
Above: Herbert Diess, current Volkswagen Group CEO.
Volkswagen says it cooperated extensively with the prosecutors from Braunschweig, and doesn't believe the markets were deliberately not informed about the ramifications of the Dieselgate affair.
According to the automaker, US authorities went public with the matter on September 18 2015 despite being in discussions with Volkswagen about the issue.
The car manufacturer says it didn't foresee this change in approach from the authorities, and was advised by its US lawyers the government would follow what was established practice where a "mutually agreed solution would first be worked out with the US authorities and then presented to the public in a joint statement".
In a statement, Volkswagen says both Diess and Pötsch will remain in their positions, although the company will hold an extraordinary board meeting tomorrow.
Lawyers for each of three men charged have contacted Bloomberg stating their clients are innocent.
Through his lawyers, Pötsch, who was chief financial officer at the time, claimed he couldn't foresee how large the fines were going to be and didn't know then the company's emissions software was deliberately trying to cheat the system.
Above: Martin Winterkorn, CEO in 2015.
Winterkorn also said he didn't know at the time the company was using software to illegally pass some of its diesel engines through emissions tests. Winterkorn accepted responsibility for the saga and resigned from Volkswagen a few days after news of the scandal broke.
After a year 15 year career at BMW, Diess joined the Volkswagen Group in July 2015 and become the head of the Volkswagen brand.
Diess remained in the position of brand chief until he was elevated to the position of CEO for the entire Volkswagen Group in 2018.