back to article Former Volkswagen CEO indicted over emission cheating conspiracy

Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen AG, has been indicted on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud by the US Department of Justice. The 70-year-old stepped down from the German carmaker in September 2015, following revelations that the company had been cheating on diesel engine emissions tests using software …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As per VW's human-guinea-pigs, he should be forced to breath-in exhaust fumes.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/dark-cloud-that-is-dieselgate-has-just-got-darker-1.3372717

    -------------

    A former VW CEO actually being indicted? No way, say it ain't so....

    His Park-Avenue-Attorneys will get him off on a technicality surely...

    But it'd still be nice to see. Imagine him wearing Orange for a time!

    1. Gpzjock
      Windows

      Re: As per VW's human-guinea-pigs, he should be forced to breath-in exhaust fumes.

      https://youtu.be/4zgh0y9vTgY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As per VW's human-guinea-pigs, he should be forced to breath-in exhaust fumes.

      https://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/dark-cloud-that-is-dieselgate-has-just-got-darker-1.3372717

      I wonder if they made sure they'd covered the right racial and social types when selecting the volunteers?

      But people, they're ten a penny. it's the monkeys I feel sorry for.

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/30/vw-suspends-media-chief-monkey-exhaust-tests-diesel-emissions

      1. Fading Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: As per VW's human-guinea-pigs, he should be forced to breath-in exhaust fumes.

        Meh - The EPA have been doing just that to volunteers:

        https://eelegal.org/pm2-5-human-experimentation/

  2. stizzleswick
    WTF?

    Something I have long wondered about...

    ...is why the other perpetrators are being constantly and consistently ignored in this. VW were only the first ones being caught, and were the first ones by pure chance--the road-test procedure used to check on-road emissions just happened to be tested on a VW Golf Diesel first, because the car was at hand. It could just as well have been an Audi A3 (OK, same company), a Honda Accord Diesel, or even a Jeep Cherokee.

    Within a year of the original scandal, every single manufacturer of Diesel engines for personal cars in the entire world was caught red-handed. That includes U.S. carmakers, who are miraculously not being prosecuted. Or the Japanese. Or Italians, Or French. And every other German car manufacturer, including BMW and Mercedes, who keep enjoying good sales in the US.

    An afterthought: the fuel injection systems and much of the engine control electronics for all engines found to be cheating were made by Bosch. Maybe that should be the place to look for the actual perpetrator?

    Just a thought.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Something I have long wondered about...

      ...An afterthought: the fuel injection systems and much of the engine control electronics for all engines found to be cheating were made by Bosch. Maybe that should be the place to look for the actual perpetrator?

      Just a thought....

      Not a very good thought. Bosch simply made systems as requested - just like a knife manufacturer makes knives. The 'actual perpetrators' are the ones who lied to the regulators.......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something I have long wondered about...

      .is why the other perpetrators are being constantly and consistently ignored in this.

      Two issues:

      1. Diesel. If you dig deep into the finance trail of clean air lobbying in the USA at the end of the money trail you will find the Oil industry - Koch brothers, etc. This is one of the very few environmental causes supported by them and it is out of pure self-interest. Diesel reduces consumption and is cheaper compared to petrol (it is more expensive at the pump purely due to taxes). Nearly every emission control reg increases consumption. More money in their coffers.

      2. Lower level of incest with USA corporations. VW does not own significant USA assets except assembly plants and there is no significant ownership of VW by American investors. The whole affair has a significant protectionist aspect.

      As far as Bosch not being hit it is a result of 2. They are protected species courtesy of all the local USAisian car manufacturers.

    3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: Something I have long wondered about...

      Re Bosch, IIRC it was reported back then that Bosch had taken care to protect themselves in writing (at least opposite VW) noting that the specified SW tool could be used for nefarious purposes, and that all the responsibility for actually using the SW in production lied with the customer (VW). Or some such, IANAL.

    4. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Something I have long wondered about...

      ...is why the other perpetrators are being constantly and consistently ignored in this. VW were only the first ones being caught, and were the first ones by pure chance--the road-test procedure used to check on-road emissions just happened to be tested on a VW Golf Diesel first, because the car was at hand. It could just as well have been an Audi A3 (OK, same company), a Honda Accord Diesel, or even a Jeep Cherokee.

      You are conflating two issues. No diesels meet emission regulations in real world testing. That has long been known in the industry and is now known more widely. But there was no cheating going on, it is just a factor of poorly designed test regimes. Or rather - far too well designed test regimes that in seeking to give repeatable results became unrealistic. Take any BMW or Honda off the street and it will pass the test despite being dirty in real world conditions.

      But what VW did was go further. Because the test is so predictable the cars were programmed to recognise when they were being tested and switched to an engine map that would never otherwise be used. If you tried to drive an Audi in that mode on the road it would be gutless to the point of being undrivable. Because they then didn't need to concern themselves with passing the test Audi engines on their real map became far worse polluters than the equivalent BMW or Honda.

      The two situations are radically different and we should be grudgingly thankful to Audi because without dieselgate it seems unlikely to me that the first situation would be getting addressed. The tests would have just gone on getting tighter and tighter and less realistic very time. What we need are tests that are numerically less strict but applied all driving situations and so far more beneficial overall.

    5. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Something I have long wondered about...

      Within a year of the original scandal, every single manufacturer of Diesel engines for personal cars in the entire world was caught red-handed.

      Have you any proof about that?

      engine control electronics for all engines found to be cheating were made by Bosch.

      AFAIK, Bosch made it clear the software was for test and evaluation only and shouldn't be used in the wild, something VW decided to sit on it.

  3. The Nazz Silver badge

    Tit for tat is not a good policy but ....

    Let the Germans jail the likes of Zuckerberg for breaking the law. 65 years should be enough.

    Oh, and Blair and Bush whilst you're at it.

    And no doubt thousands of other company execs here and there.

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Ah wire fraud

    The Swiss army knife of the American "justice" system.

    If you talked about on the phone you committed wire fraud. Hope he goes down as should several other CEOs but wire fraud - really?

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: Ah wire fraud

      Yes, I started wondering about this, too, as I was reading the article. Out of 65 potential years of porridge 60 would be for wire fraud. What are those 3 counts of wire fraud, specifically? 3 emails that the CEO responded to when informed of the investigation/accusations, saying "deal with it in any way you can"? Which would also be the basis of the "conspiracy" charge.

      Not to absolve VW or its CEO of responsibility, but the old USofA do seem to have quite a few of those convenient catch-all laws that could apply to just about anything or anyone. Must be a hell of an interrogation tool to press suspects (not yet criminals, mind you) into plea bargains, etc.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Ah wire fraud

        old USofA do seem to have quite a few of those convenient catch-all laws that could apply to just about anything or anyone

        I suspect that any judiciary older than about 5 years does too (and probably most of the younger ones too since they mostly get bootstrapped off a previous set of laws).

        Simply because they are far, far too useful to law enforcement to leave off.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Let's be clear. This has killed people prematurly.

    And as noted all car companies seem to be guilty of it.

    But maybe the rest are "Too big to fail" as other businesses have been?

    What do you call a CEO in the dock with a potential to do major time?

    A start.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's be clear. This has killed people prematurly.

      And as noted all car companies seem to be guilty of it.

      Ban all cars, see what happens to the economy. I'll wager there would be a lot more "premature deaths" if we went back to the car-free economy of the early 1900s. Obviously you'd have to similarly ban any manufacturing process with particulate, NOx or SOx emissions. And gas boilers. So that's EV's also banned unless you can produce all of their power all year round with renewables, which might work for a low population density in sunny countries.

    2. Fading Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Let's be clear. This has killed people prematurly.

      Name 5.

      This is about levels of NOx and NOx are irritants and may cause problems for asthmatics and others with pre-existing lung conditions - but are not toxic in themselves.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But maybe the rest are "Too big to fail" as other businesses have been?

      GM failed spectacularly in 2009.

  6. 0laf Silver badge

    You may also note the compensation issued to US customers Vs UK

    In the US VAG paid out billions in compensation and bought back affected cars in some cases.

    In the UK you've been offered a 'fix' which appears to have a significant change of buggering up your car. In cash terms you've been told to piss off.

    I don't drive a VAG btw but I do drive a diesel so far unaffected by any investigations however the diesel scam have knock a lot of value of me motor which is not nice.

  7. Donchik

    Why blame the innocent?

    VW designed a system specifically to deceive the testing regime.

    Other manufacturers complied with the local laws and testing regimes.

    All the other manufacturers have been "Tarred" with the VW Dieselgate brush and have seen significant lowering in revenue due to Diesel sales declines, as well as being presented with new "Real World" testing regimes at very short notice causing considerable disruption and cost to their own compliant programmes.

    I find it insulting to hear repeatedly claimed that all car manufacturers are cheating like VW. Put up or Shut UP! Where is your evidence for such nonsense.

    What I do find surprising is that the innocent manufacturers have not started legal actions against VW for the consequential damage their deception has caused which truly runs into billions of $/£/€ take your pick.

    VW have shattered the public confidence in Diesel which will lead to huge CO2 emissions (Petrol, or Electric Vehicle powered by Fossil fuel power stations etc.) in exchange for a reduction in particulate matter which the latest Euro 6 standards lowered to that of gasoline engines...

    Am I angry, sure, but not just with VW, but the media witch-hunt that has followed targeting Diesel in general, and which continues to be propagated by ill-informed social media pundits.

    I'm also sure you've detected that I work in the automotive sector, and have a vested interest, but that does not make the facts change.

    Upvote or downvote, as you feel fit, but do it based on the facts not the "Fake" news pundits.

  8. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Ecuadorian Embassy

    If extradited from Germany...

    Joachimsthaler Str. 10-12,

    10719 Berlin

    1. Dog Eatdog

      Re: Ecuadorian Embassy

      He doesn't need political asylum - Germany does not extradite its own citizens.

      However, it does mean that he won't be able to travel for fear of arrest overseas - looks like his future holidays will be confined to walks in the Black Forest.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is so much false information on Diselgate that it's embarrassing

    For the record, the trivial excess exhaust emissions from VW Diesels is 147th of the annual legal Diesel exhaust emissions from clean Diesel class 8 trucks in the U.S. which are damn clean Diesels. The U.S. EPA is a politically driven entity that needs to justify it's existence and it's chair persons' platinum lifestyle that tax payers end up paying for. The EPA did NOT discover the minute excess exhaust emissions from the VW/Audi Diesels. Independent researchers found the trivial excess exhaust emissions. A simple software upgrade makes these Diesels fully compliant with U.S. Diesel emissions laws which were designed to eliminate ALL Diesel powered vehicles in favor of EVs. The absurd U.S. emissions standards (the lowest NOx in the world), established by the EPA was a ruse perpetuated by former president Obama and the EPA. It's a scam and a plot against the populace and common sense as clean Diesels are used by the majority of countries for their excellent mpg.

    I'm all for prosecuting all involved in the VW Dieselgate crime. The real crime is fraud not significant exhaust emissions. You would not know this from media reports however. If Winterkorn was part of the small group of approximately <50 people involved then he should pay a high price for his crime. Understand however that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPS), is NOT accountable to anyone. They do what they please and are extremely political. They have destroyed entire industries with absurd and unreasonable mandates that do not benefit mankind. The EPA has never proved it's claims regarding Dieselgate emissions. Instead it has blackmailed VW into making false statements or the EPA would increase the "costs" associated with Dieselgate by many BILLIONS more in fines.

    In VW's case between fines, auto buy-backs (still ongoing), mandated repairs, financial payments to VW customers, etc. the cost to VW has been in excess of $20 BILLION and counting. When you learn that the EPA forced VW to buy back 150,000 Diesel cars that meet ALL U.S emissions and to publicly state that the Audi V6 Diesel doesn't meet U.S. emissions specs when it actually DOES meet and actually is superior to other Diesel emissions, you'll start to understand the gang rape the EPA has imposed on VW over trivial exhaust emissions that have harmed no one. It's worth noting that not only has the EPA damaged the value of VW vehicles, it's caused the loss of jobs in the U.S. and Europe as a result of the excessive and unreasonable costs to VW over this matter. Some folks refer to the U.S. EPA as the Evil Predatory Agency for their unconscionable and destructive actions against mankind.

    If you do the research and obtain the facts, you'll find that the EPA ignores the thousands of methane gas line leaks in the U.S. that in fact are causing harm to society. Apparently these leaks which emit hundreds of times the toxic gases compared to all of the excess Diesel exhaust emissions, is unimportant to the EPA. The EPA has so blatantly misrepresented the facts in Dieselgate as to be criminal IMNHO. Unfortunately these chair persons are immune from prosecution for their fraud and violations of law. This is a clear case of abuse of power IME.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intravenous injection of 25cc nitric acid

    Add a little salt to the wound.

    Every hour, on the hour.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'The scandal cost $29bn - but any damage to its reputation doesn't seem to have lasted very long.'

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44005844

    WTF???

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