Brussels (Brussels Morning) Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and other former executives implicated in the so-called Dieselgate scandal reached a settlement with their former company in which they will pay some 288 million euro to the company to cover part of the damage inflicted by their actions.
The settlement was announced on Wednesday, the same day as German prosecutors charged Winterkorn with providing false testimony to the German parliament. Testifying in January 2017 before a Bundestag committee, Winterkorn claimed he had not heard of the so-called “defeat device” before September 2015, when the scandal first broke out.
The German prosecutors claim that Winterkorn was informed of the device and its purpose – deceiving emissions tests to make the cars’ diesel engines appear cleaner – at least by May 2015, if not earlier.
The device, first publicly uncovered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was installed on thousands of VW cars in the form of special software which would artificially change an engine’s emissions when it detected it was being subjected to standardised emissions testing, such as that used by regulatory agencies.
Since the scandal broke, the company was found liable for more than 32 billion euro in damages to its consumers and regulatory agencies, with many more lawsuits pending. Winterkorn stepped down as company CEO in September 2015, a week after the scandal became public.
Apart from the latest false testimony charges, Winterkorn is still standing trial for fraud in Braunschweig, a town close to the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg. Winterkorn, who denies culpability, could face a prison sentence if found guilty.
On Wednesday, the company stated that Winterkorn and a number of other former executives, including former Audi head Rupert Stadler, are to pay a total of 288 million euro to the company, most of which will come from directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, with Winterkorn paying some 11 million euro from his own pocket.