German prosecutors have expanded their fraud investigation into Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal to include former CEO Martin Winterkorn’s alleged involvement in the matter.
The prosecutor’s office in the German town of Brunswick, about half an hour from Volkswagen’s global headquarters in Wolfsburg, said Friday that it had expanded its investigation from a previous focus on 22 people to 37.
The fraud probe now includes Winterkorn, who had previously been under investigation only for his potential failure to disclose the scandal to investors early enough, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors are investigating the conduct of people responsible for rigging some 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide with software to evade emissions tests.
German investigators searched 28 locations for materials connected to the scandal, including homes and offices, prosecutors said.
A VW spokeswoman declined to comment.
Winterkorn, who resigned days after the scandal erupted in September 2015, has denied involvement or early knowledge of the emissions regulations cheating.
“It’s incomprehensible why I wasn’t informed early and clearly,” Winterkorn testified before a German parliamentary committee earlier this month, according to reports. “I would have prevented any type of deception or misleading of authorities.”
If Winterkorn knew about or directed the emissions cheating, it could expose the company to additional financial liability, Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said Friday in a note to investors.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Nathan Bomey