Dhe investigative proceedings of the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office in the diesel scandal continue to lighten. On Monday, the prosecution announced that it was suspending the proceedings against former VW and Porsche SE boss Martin Winterkorn on suspicion of market manipulation in connection with the emissions scandal. A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor justified this with the allegations that Winterkorn was exposed to in Braunschweig.
At the regional court there, Winterkorn will have to answer from February 25 next year, along with other defendants, on charges of commercial and gang fraud. It concerns the manipulation of more than 11 million diesel vehicles from VW, Audi and Porsche around the world, which became known in September 2015. If convicted, Winterkorn, now 73 years old, faces up to ten years in prison.
Another indictment, which the judges in Braunschweig admitted unchanged to the main hearing a month ago, is, as in Stuttgart, about market manipulation. According to the regional court in Braunschweig, the former head of the company is said to have deliberately failed to inform the capital market in good time, although he knew about the installation of an inadmissible defeat device. Winterkorn’s lawyer Felix Dörr had rejected the allegations.
The public prosecutors in Stuttgart had not yet brought any charges. Therefore, they were able to suspend the proceedings temporarily and without the approval of the court. The Code of Criminal Procedure provides for this option if an expected penalty would not be particularly significant compared to an expected penalty in another criminal process. Depending on the outcome of the market manipulation proceedings in Braunschweig, the investigations could also be resumed, said the spokeswoman for the Stuttgart authority. When asked by the FAZ, a spokesman for Winterkorn refused to comment.
More settings in summer
In August, long-term investigations against two other members of the top management level at Volkswagen came to an end. The Stuttgart public prosecutor had closed the proceedings against the head of VW-Holding Porsche SE (PSE), Hans Dieter Pötsch, and the former VW boss Matthias Müller, in the case of Pötsch against a payment of 1.5 million euros.