Germany prosecutors are looking into whether Volkswagen’s chief executive knew more than what he admits when it comes to the car company’s emissions scandal. Martin Winterkorn is being investigated on suspicion of fraud, reports Reuters, which says that he is already being eyed for market manipulation as well.
In September 2014, researchers at West Virginia University tested the Volkswagen and the Audi and discovered that the cars had been releasing more pollutants that the parent company had said. That’s when the car maker set out to systematically deceive consumers and regulators, some state attorney generals said.
However, VW said that its executive board did not learn of about the software that had created the false readings until August 2015, says Reuters. That’s when the matter was reported to US authorities, which have indicted six German car executives but not its chief executive.
“Appearing before German lawmakers last week Winterkorn refused to say when he first learned about systematic exhaust emissions cheating but said it was no earlier than VW has officially admitted,” the Reuters story says.
It adds that prosecutors have searched dozens of homes regarding this matter and that the number of people whom it is investigating is 37.
“Sufficient indications have resulted from the investigation, particularly the questioning of witnesses and suspects as well as the analysis of seized data, that the accused (Winterkorn) may have known about the manipulating software and its effects sooner than he has said publicly,” prosecutors said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.
Already VW has pled guilty and will pay $4.3 billion in a deal announced earlier this year with the US Department of Justice. Reuters says that this scandal has cost the car company about $22 billion in all.