The Center for Economic Criminal Matters (Zentralstelle für Wirtschaftsstrafsachen) of the German public prosecutor in Braunschweig (Staatsanwaltschaft Braunschweig) has begun an investigation of Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen AG, over the VW exhaust affair (“VW-Abgasaffäre”).
The focus of the investigation is the accusation of fraud related to the sale of vehicles with manipulated exhaust systems. Volkswagen AG had filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor’s office without naming an accused.
The prosecutor’s office said the particular focus of the investigation of Dr. Winterkorn is the clarification of responsibilities (accountabilities).
Earlier in the day, citing “sources close to the matter”, Reuters reported that Volkswagen AG suspended Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, head of brand development at its core VW brand; Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, the head of research and development at Audi who also oversees technical development across the group; and Wolfgang Hatz, R&D chief at Porsche who heads group engine and transmissions development.
Volkswagen has not confirmed the suspensions.