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Martin Winterkorn

German Prosecutors Backpedal, Say No Formal Inquiry Against VW Ex-CEO

Oct. 1, 2015
An official press statement released on Monday by public prosecutors in Brunswick was "formulated incorrectly."

FRANKFURT, Germany -- German prosecutors said Thursday that they had not launched a formal inquiry against Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of auto giant Volkswagen (IW 1000/7), contrary to what they originally stated this week.

An official press statement released on Monday by public prosecutors in Brunswick was "formulated incorrectly," a spokesman told AFP.

No specific individuals are targeted so far in the prosecutors' investigation into the massive pollution-cheating scandal. Complaints had been filed by private individuals against Winterkorn, but only initial suspicions were being probed and there was no formal inquiry as yet, the spokesman explained. 

The original statement on the prosecutors' website had been amended to say that "in connection with the allegations of emission manipulation in diesel vehicles of the VW brand ... prosecutors are examining whether to launch an inquiry against those employees responsible at Volkswagen AG."

But the statement no longer named Winterkorn directly. 

Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is undergoing testing. 

They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.

The automaker has drawn up a plan of action to recall millions of cars affected. 

Regulatory and legal probes are underway in several countries to find out who knew what and when.

And the German government has given VW until Oct. 7 to explain how it will resolve the scandal.

Sixty-eight-year-old Winterkorn resigned last week, taking responsibility for the scandal as CEO, but still insisting that he personally knew nothing about the deception.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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